Fear Factory have been around a good while. Often credited as the first band to blend harsh vocals and clean singing courtesy of stalwart Burton C. Bell, the band have been celebrating 20 years since the release of their landmark 1995 album Demanufacture with a UK tour. On December 13, accompanied by Dead Label and Logan Mader’s melodeath quintet Once Human, they descended upon the Kentish Town Forum to cap off the celebrations.
Kicking off the evening’s events was Irish trio Dead Label [6/10], providing a visceral and energetic performance, yet suffering from what I like to call Opening Band Syndrome (or OBS). The mix seemed to be constantly changing as the sound guys struggled to make all 3 members audible, with only the drums (save for the snare) and vocals a constantly audible presence. The band has to be commended on their enthusiasm but the sound problems just meant that the audience couldn’t fully absorb their music. It took until Once Human [9/10] stepped up that things finally got going. Though they’ve only been around for less than a year, Once Human are already performing like a well oiled machine and the youngsters Logan has assembled each play their part to perfection, with Lauren Hart’s commanding stage presence being the glue that holds them all together. While the crowd failed to really get going due to unfamiliarity with the band’s material (this is the band’s first European tour and debut album The Life I Remember was released in September, read the review here), the set closing cover of (Mader’s old band) Machine Head’s classic “Davidian” showed just how much of an impact the quintet can make when the crowd knows what’s up.
If the reaction to “Davidian” was anything to go by, Fear Factory [10/10] would have little problem getting the crowd moving once they hit the stage. And once those first notes of “Demanufacture” came blasting out of the speakers, the entire forum was rocking. Burton C. Bell’s vocal range isn’t what it used to be with his higher register almost completely gone, but the way the band (now completed with former Static-X, Ministry, Possessed and Soulfly bassist Tony Campos) have managed to rearrange their songs to compensate means that any inability to hit the high screams are barely noticeable anymore. After playing the album in full with machine-like precision, Burton C. Bell can barely even talk anymore but is able to hammer on through an encore comprising of tracks from Obsolete, new album Genexus, and even a performance of “Martyr” from their debut, death metal oriented album, Soul of a New Machine. After such an accomplished set there is little left to say about Fear Factory apart from the fact that they are sheer masters of their craft and there won’t be a single fan unhappy with their performance that night. Roll on 2016.