Live Review: Fear Factory

1 October 2012 | 3:27 pm | James O’Toole

Fear Factory kick off right on time with the title track from their latest album The Industrialist and it's a solid start that smashes into overdrive when Shock and Edgecrusher follow in quick succession. “Can you feel it?” vocalist Burton C Bell asks in between songs, and we can. Fear Factory are in good form tonight. They know it, and after this opening salvo so do we.

Only a few years ago it looked like we'd never see vocalist Burton C Bell and guitarist Dino Cazares sharing a stage again, but it's obvious that whatever issues they had are long gone. There's a great positive energy and they're clearly enjoying their time onstage together. Having seen all of the various incarnations of the band live since they fell out with Cazares, it's equally obvious to this reviewer that Fear Factory sound best with Bell and Cazares working together.

Former Chimaira guitarist Matt DeVries does a great job on bass, slapping the outstretched hands of the front row and providing a strong supporting stage presence. Drummer Mike Heller proves he has the chops to flawlessly execute the band's demanding material, forming a rock solid foundation with DeVries throughout. Cazares's right hand is among the best in metal, spitting out razor sharp riffs with amazing consistency. There are patches where Bell's vocals are a little off as he struggles to hit some of the higher notes during his clean vocal parts, probably due to touring fatigue, but he really nails his heavy vocals and the band's performance is so energetic and punishingly tight overall that we can forgive a few vocal wobbles.

“On this tour Dino and I have been getting a little nostalgic,” Bell says mid-set, explaining 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Soul Of A New Machine. As a result we're in for a treat, as classics Martyr, Scapegoat and Self Immolation get a run, the latter played here for the first time since the '90s. All three tracks still sound powerful live and there are a lot of old school Fear Factory fans here tonight who are stoked to hear them.

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After this blast from the past, it gets even better. “Brothers and sisters, from here on out we're playing tracks from Demanufacture!” Bell roars. The barrage of songs that follow from arguably their best album include the title track, Self Bias Resistor, Pisschrist and Zero Signal. Pisschrist has the crowd singing along with Bell every step of the way, belting out, “Where is your saviour now?” so loudly near the end that he's almost drowned out.

After this rapturously received burst of classic material, Bell introduces the band and the biggest response comes when introduces Cazares. Fear Factory have been here many times, and it shows when the guitarist responds to the roaring crowd with, “G'day cunts!” in his best Australian accent. Bell chimes in with, “You're speaking their language!” and Cazares replies, “Get a fucking dog up ya, mate!” It's all good fun and shows how much the band enjoy playing here.

It's all over too soon, as Replica provides a fitting finale to 90 minutes of brutal precision by one of the most original and distinctive metal bands of the last 20 years.