Fear Factory Demanufacture 20th Anniversary
Kentish Town Forum, London
13th December 2015
Reviewer: Steve Allen
Photographer: Michelle Murphy
When it was announced that one of the most celebrated yet also underrated bands formed in the 90’s would be performing their most successful albums in full to celebrate its 20th anniversary, it’s fair to say that anticipation was high. Only something of this magnitude could get the atmosphere around Kentish Town’s Forum was buzzing with excitement on a cold, grey and wet Sunday night in London.
So it was no surprise that the venue was nearly full to capacity when tonight’s opening act DEAD LABEL (4/5) took to the stage.
It was clear to see just how much the Dublin three piece have been enjoying their time on this UK run with Fear Factory and they were clearly excited to be playing in front of so many new faces, ripping through their set at break neck speed. Their straight up in your face brand of metal certainly had the masses nodding along in approval, even opening up a small pit down the front thanks to those already in the know.
Lead singer and bassist Dan O’Grady barely stood still long enough to sing, whilst guitarist Danny Hall shredded his way through the set with a presence reminiscent of Machine Head’s Phil Demmel as the tiny frame of drummer Claire Percival could barely be seen behind her kit as she laid down monster beats that drove the set on.
By the time they finished their closing track “Void” it’s fair to say they’d made some new friends in London and the smiles on their faces told us all that they’d enjoyed it as much as we had.
Dead Label Set list:
Throne of Bones
Are You Ready To Kill
Salvation in Sacrifice
Next up tonight was a return to the stage (can it really be 12 years since he last performed live?!?!?!?) for former Machine Head guitarist Logan Mader with his new band ONCE HUMAN.
Fronted by tiny Australian powerhouse Lauren Hart, Once Human are a band forged in the same vain as Arch Enemy (but with a twist that is easily recognisable as Logan Mader) and they set about levelling the Forum with the appropriate degree of ferocity. Tracks such as “Pick Your Poison” and “The Life I Remember” are delivered hard and fast and the assembled masses lap it up.
It’s clear to see there is no ego with Logan. He could easily have hogged the spot light and traded on his name, however he is happy to leave that to Lauren who prowls the front of the stage like a tigress stalking her prey as he stands to the side and simply gets on with his job of laying down slick riffs all the while swinging his massive dreadlocks round like a demented flail.
Choosing to close out their set with a cover of Machine Heads eponymous track “Davidian” (that Mader did help write let’s not forget) could have gone very wrong for them, but the reaction from all sections of the audience tonight proved that it was a risk well worth taking as the vocals could barely be heard over the bellowing masses screaming along with every word.
For me the only downside to their set was how much Lauren seems to have been studying the “Angela Gossow book on how to be a front woman”. Every movement and gesture as she sang reminded me of the former Arch Enemy vocalist and kind of detracted from the night for me. But this of course a purely personal opinion and shouldn’t take anything away from how well Once Human were received by those in attendance.
Once Human Set list:
Pick Your Poison
The Life I Remember
Time of the Disease
Now it was time for the main event, the reason we were all here – FEAR FACTORY (5/5) performing DEMANUFACTURE in its entirety.
I’m going to hold my hands up now and admit that I was slightly sceptical about this. Why play and old album in full when you have a new album to support? However, once the house lights went down and the band appeared on stage launching into title track “Demanufacture” with so much passion you’d be convinced that it was this album they were touring for the first time, iy was clear that the choice of a full-album set was no mistake
The band had clearly spent a long time working on the sound during the day, as the drums were crystal clear (thankfully given how much Fear Factory’s over all sound relies on them), Dino’s guitar tone was so sharp it could cut glass, and the bass from Tony Campos (ex Static X and Soulfly) was clear but not over powering.
All of this was beautifully wrapped in Burton’s vocals which rose and soared as freely as they did 20 years ago when this album first came out.
For the next hour or so we were treated to awe inspiring renditions of classic metal tracks that sound every bit as fresh now. The band paused only briefly to allow Burton to delicately tease us before powering into “Replica”.
With so much enthusiasm pulsating from the stage, it was hard for the crowd not to react positively. Everyone from front to back and up on to the balcony was loving and living every note to the fullest, and by the time they reached the albums closing track “A Therapy For Pain”, there wasn’t one person who would be disappointed if the gig had end then.
Happily though, after a short break, the band returned to treat us to an encore worthy of the main event, opening with “Shock” and “Edgecrusher” from the “Obsolete” album (my personal favourite), before showcasing three songs from latest release “Genexus” and then closing the night with “Martyr” all the way from their debut album “Soul of a New Machine”. It was a perfect way to end the night.
This was easily the best performance I’ve seen from Fear Factory over the years. There was literally not one thing I’d change about tonight. The passion that the whole band brought to the stage tonight was insane and points to good things to a bright future for the band. I can’t wait to see them do this again at Bloodstock Open Air next August.
Fear Factory Set list
Self Bias Resistor
Dog Day Sunrise (Head of David cover)
A Therapy for Pain