My first exposure to industrial metallers Fear Factory was back in college and the Mortal Kombat soundtrack which featured “Zero Signal” off a little album called Demanufacture. Something about the synths and the syncopated guitar and drum attacks paired with vocalist Burton C. Bell’s growl to a croon approach immediately stood out to me. And as a fan of bands like Ministry and NIN already, this took me to a new level.
I remember buying a ticket to Blaze Bailey-fronted Iron Maiden at Boston’s Avalon in February of ’96 when I found out FF were on the bill because I desperately wanted to see them finally. I fought my way to the front, screamed like a maniac during the Demanufacture-heavy set then promptly peaced out when they were done (Yeah, not a big Iron Maiden fan. Sorry?) It was heaven.
Cut to years later, countless FF albums and countless times seeing them live with many different line ups. Now here they are celebrating 20 years (!) of the album that started it all for me with a stop at The Palladium in Worcester, MA. I had to go.
Honestly, I’ve only seen one shitty Fear Factory show (Which was, coincidentally enough, at The Palladium) and that was just before they “disbanded” so hopes were high going in as I hadn’t seen them in quite some time.
Fans of Fear Factory need to go to this. Fans of Demanufacture need to go to this. Fans of great live heavy music need to go to this.
Never mind the obvious crowd pleasers like “Demanufacture”, “Replica”, and “Self Bias Resistor” (Which did not disappoint, by the way), the true meat and potatoes of this set is the outliers. Where else can you see electro-dirge “A Therapy For Pain” played in its entirety or Head Of David’s decidedly Poppy “Dog Day Sunrise”? And where else are you GUARANTEED to see “Pisschrist” live every night? Only at the Demanufacture 20th Anniversary tour, kiddies.
And the band was spot on. It was my first time seeing Dino back (They really should come to MA more often) and it was like he never left. Then there’s “new” members Tony Campos on bass and Mike Heller on drums who will make even the most staunch Fear Factory supporter utter the following: “Raymond and Christian who?” Campos, who Bell previously worked with in Ministry and Cazares partnered with in Asesino, is the perfect match while Heller is a goddamn demon behind the kit.
If the Demanufacture set wasn’t enough for diehards then the mini set that followed was enough to satiate the most fervent FF headbanger with cuts like “Shock”, “Archetype” and “Martyr” sounding better than ever before.
As much of a nostalgia trip seeing Fear Factory play Demanufacture in its entirety is, I’m more excited about what the future holds when the four current members of the band reconvene in the studio. Genexus, their eighth and most recent album, is one of their most solid yet since Dino has come back to the fold and the reason why cuts like “Soul Hacker” and “Regenerate” fit so well alongside classics during the mini set/encore.