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Live Review: Fear Factory, Circles, Tensions Arise

6 June 2016 | 1:02 pm | Brendan Crabb

"The turnout writhed and pogo-ed to the barrage of industrialised anthems."

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A sparse early attendance meant Sydney's Tensions Arise were predominantly a soundtrack to the few present buying merchandise and downing a few cleansing ales. They dedicated themselves to the task, but such nondescript groove-metal (with not always convincing harsh vocals) meant the crowd ultimately went mild.

Melbourne prog-metal mob Circles offered a greater emphasis on nuance and more intriguing dynamics. Even members of the folded-arms brigade were soon compelled to concede approval. The 45-minute set did lag somewhat towards its conclusion, but overall they left with reputation enhanced.

Nostalgia may be more potent than ever within heavy music. The uproarious response afforded sci-fi metallers Fear Factory opening with the one-two sonic gut-punch of stone-cold classics Demanufacture and Self Bias Resistor would indicate as much. The LA crew had enlisted a new face, former Static-X bassist Tony Campos, alongside mainstays, vocalist Burton C Bell and portly riff-meister Dino Cazares. However, their efficient delivery remained as the turnout writhed and pogo-ed to the barrage of industrialised anthems. Even a few selections from latest disc Genexus were warmly greeted, although that may be partially attributable to the songs' self-referential nature.

An online fan poll resulted in the reintroduction of the likes of atmospheric Resurrection. Non-Cazares era track and initial parting shot Archetype was incorporated again, albeit with lyrics slightly modified ("the infections have been removed") as a riposte to former bandmates. Bell's clean vocals have long been a hit or miss proposition live, with noticeably more of the latter occurring nowadays, but nonetheless the gathering embraced the sheer energy. Multiple generations of certain clans — the frontman joked that many younger punters hadn't been born when 1992's death metal game changer Soul Of A New Machine landed — certainly got their fill until the machines of hate return for another round.

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