Tonight’s show is the first the UK date on Fear Factory’s 20th Anniversary tour for Demanufacture. Originally scheduled to be at Motion but moved to the Bierkeller – a smaller but far more intimate venue, also one of Bristol’s oldest live venues.
Irish three piece Dead Label [3.5/5.0] are no strangers to opening for established acts, having opened for Machine Head and Gojira in their native country of Ireland in recent years. They have been going down a storm across the European leg of this tour; this is their chance to win over some more fans. Starting with ‘Are You Ready to Kill’ , Dan O’ Grady growls down the microphone with Danny Hall thrashing at his guitar. From behind the drum kit Claire Percival can be seen blasting at her drums, showing that girls can pack out a punch as well as any guy. The crowd are enjoying it, with some passionate fans down the front. Dead Label are described as a groove metal band, which I can tell from the set. They have a lot of strong riffs and gruff to their style which gives it a lot of power, songs like “Ominous” showcase this really well. Their set is short but well received, I’m sure this Irish Trio will have a lot to offer when their new album is released next year.
A lot of people here tonight are intrigued to see Once Human [4.5/5.0] for two reasons; one Logan Mader (ex Machine Head/Soulfly) is back playing live after a 12 year hiatus and two to see Lauren Hart scream her heart out. As they take to the stage Lauren informs the crowd that this is Once Human’s UK debut show, therefore she hopes that the crowd enjoy it. Kicking straight into “Ground Zero” Lauren’s vocal are strong, and very much in the vein of Arch Enemy’s Angela Gossow. She comfortably dominates the stage, head banging, screaming and growling her vocals. Logan and guitarist Skyler Howren exchange guitar riffs well, giving the songs their heavy vibe. The familiar guitar style of Logan is very present, mixed well with Damien Rainaud’s bass playing.
Most people recognise the song “You Cunt” and enjoy joining in to the chorus with Lauren , as the crowd jump around with excitement. Dillon Trollope the drummer does a solid job from behind his drum kit, although he does appear to be the quieter member of the band. The set is enjoyable and full of tunes from their debut album “The Life I Remember”, with one exception. We are treated to Machine Head’s “Davidian” which Logan recorded with the band back on their 1994 “Burn My Eyes” debut; it is different having female vocals but works. Logan looks like he enjoys playing it; head banging and jumping around the stage. The crowd sings along as if it were a Machine Head show, getting lost in the excitement we are reminded it is a Once Human show before they leave the stage.
Fear Factory’s [5.0/5.0] “Demanufacture” is a concept album based on man’s struggle against a machine controlled government, partly inspired by James Cameron’s Terminator. It was released in the wake of the early 90’s LA riots, to an America in turmoil. Fear Factory had created a classic album unknown to them at the time, their sound and style would go on to influence many metal musicians in the decades to come. To hear this album in its entirety is a performance that could not be missed.
As the band take to the stage, the anticipation of the crowd is growing. The intro of Demanufacture begins and all hell breaks loose in the crowd, as Dino Cazares’ crunching guitar riffs start. Burton C Bell appears center stage and starts screaming to the crowd, his vocals are good and strong. Mike Heller’s blast beats punch through the Bierkeller floor, as “Self Bias Resistor” begins. Tony Campos bass lines thunder along with the drums as Burton sings the chorus, capturing the crowd in it’s intensity. The electronic intro to “Zero Signal” is accompanied by Mike’s drums before Burton continues to song to the crowd. A small technical difficulty is incurred with the drums and whilst it’s being fixed the crowd begin to chant Burton’s name , they then move on to Dino who quickly manages to turn it into his signature “you fat bastard!” chant. The technical issue with the drums is fixed and Burton introduces “Replica” which sends the crowd into a frenzy. Continuing the “Demanufacture” set with “New Breed” and “Dog Day Sunrise” which tests Burton’s vocal range well, it’s the best I’ve heard his vocals in recent years.
Dino marches around the stage to “Body Hammer” in his element looking really happy and enthusiastic; his signature guitar riffs really hitting point tonight. As “Flashpoint” starts the sweat drops off Burton as he screams over the crowd; the Bierkeller is a packed with sweaty men shouting and moshing. The blast beats of “H-K (Hunter-Killer)” kicking and the samples give Burton his cue to sing, as Dino and Tom change stage sides again. Burton stops a moment to introduce “Pisschrist”, which is unleashed to an ecstatic crowd who sings along to the chorus. Lastly as “A Therapy for Pain” ends the overwhelmed crowd cheers and shouts “Fear Factory” repeatedly, wanting more now the “Demanufacture” part of the set is over.
The band regroups on the stage and Burton chats to the crowd asking if they want some more songs, which they cheer for gladly. From the album “Obsolete” we get “Shock” and “Edgecrusher”, which are regular crowd pleasers to sing along too. From the new album “Genexus” Burton introduces lead single “Soul Hacker”, which plays straight into “Dielectric” and “Regenerate”. Burton’s vocals are slightly stronger on the newer tracks; maybe due to singing these more recently. Lastly Burton tells us they are going to give us one more song, “we are going to take you back to our very first album “Soul of a New Machine” this is “Martyr”!” It sounds awesome and is a good choice to end this momentous set on, which has spanned their whole carrier. Fear Factory may not have changed their sound much over the years, but why would they when it works.