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Fear Factory/Soilwork

Date: 5/6/2016
Venue: Marquee Theater, Tempe AZ
Report By: Jack Mangan


In 1995, the mighty Fear Factory released their game-changing sophomore CD/cassette, "Demaufacture," which fused Thrash, Industrial, Death Metal, guttural harsh vocals and soaring clean singing, technology with muscle and sweat, and cyberpunk with apocalyptic - - forever redrawing the boundaries of each of those genres. The songs were brutal, yet melodic and singable. Primitive, yet sophisticated. Too heavy for the masses, yet accessible enough to earn them a few years of reluctant welcome in mainstream hard rock radio rotations.

It's a pleasure to get the chance to hear such a near-perfect, landmark album performed live in its entirety by the original artists. Fear Factory set out in 2015-2016 on a headlining tour to do just that for "Demanufacture" to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Founding members Burton C. Bell and Dino Cazares lead the way on vocals and guitars, respectively, as the Lennon/McCartney or Hetfield/Ulrich bosses of the band, but are supported more than adequately by Mike Heller on drums and new guy Tony Campos on bass. In their hands, "Demanufacture" sounds as fresh and progressive/transgressive as it did two decades ago. The energy of the crowd only heightened as FF worked through the tracks, and the faithful's anticipation grew for each upcoming classic. The timeless, transcendent moments on "Demanufacture," especially the climaxes of ‘Zero Signal’ and ‘Pisschrist’, neared the rapture of religious experience, (ironically?).

The two least interesting songs on the album, ‘Body Hammer’ and ‘H-K’, both found new, supercharged life in this setting and context. I was curious at how the slow, despair-driven ‘A Therapy For Pain’ would play out live, especially after the unbridled aggression of the previous hour, but its power and beauty were only further enhanced. They followed up the full album play with only four more songs on this night, but they were solid choices: two from the "Obsolete" album and two from their latest, "Genexus," (‘Soul Hacker’ and ‘Regenerate’). Note: it would seem that on some other tours, they're also playing ‘Martyr’ from their first album. We just missed out on that one this evening in Tempe.

It's the preciously uncommon set where every song is a thrill, with no lulls. The crowd was as fired-up as I've ever seen at the Marquee Theater, effusively cheering and exuberantly singing along, horns and hands held high for the full show. This pit never got ugly, but also never shrunk or spun down. Typical of most concerts for bands this heavy, the delivery was straight-ahead and no-frills, with no effects or flashy visuals beyond the lighting; nothing but the music, the performers on the stage, and the audience. The dual figureheads of the band, Dino Cazares and Burton Bell, lived up to their iconic status. While Cazares has never been a lead player and his solos are few and far between, his rhythm guitar work is precise to the point of being mechanical. He brings an everyman work ethic and a deep love of the fans and the music to his performance and stage presence. The affection is mutual, with shouts and even chants of "Dino" from the audience.

Burton cut a more stoic figure beneath the lights; spoke sparingly between songs throughout the night, yet commanded the stage and the audience with the raw power of his voice and his persona. This is a man who leaves nothing out, who pours all he has into his performances. Before the closer, ‘Edgecrusher’, he did share a few sentiments of gratitude for the fans and acknowledgment of the opening acts. It says a lot that this only came through in his speaking voice, that his coarse roars and the majestic heights of his singing never lacked in volume or intensity, never faltered, through even the most intense of the songs.

Some concerts are fun nights out, some are great releases of energy, some are chances to connect with great songs - - and then there are the live experiences that transport you and the music to a different place. Fear Factory have achieved this rare feat with their tribute to "Demanufacture," further cementing it as one of the greatest and most important Metal albums of all time. Yes, I said it - - and I'll stand by it. If you ever get the chance, then make sure you don't miss this experience.

By the way, I can't close out without mentioning their busmates and openers on this tour: Soilwork. Their sound aligns with the In Flames camp of Swedish Death Metal, and they delivered with crackling passion and intensity. Vocalist Bjorn "Speed" Strid packs plenty of charisma in his versatile, fiery performance. Their powerful attack served as the perfect lead-in for Fear Factory. Note to the powers-that-be: while Soilwork are capable of headlining in their own right, these bands sharing a bill is a combination that works.

Fear Factory Setlist:
Self Bias Resistor
Zero Signal
New Breed
Dog Day Sunrise
Body Hammer
H-K (Hunter-Killer)
A Therapy For Pain
Soul Hacker

Soilwork setlist:
The Ride Majestic
The Chainheart Machine
The Crestfallen
Follow the Hollow
The Living Infinite I
Whirl of Pain
Bastard Chain
Let This River Flow
Late for the Kill, Early for the Slaughter
Stabbing the Drama


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