13th December 2015
Review and Photography by Graham Hilling
Another mild winter evening sees me making my way to the Forum in Kentish Town to see Fear Factory celebrate the 20th anniversary of their classic album “Demanufacture”. Arriving for the first support, Dead Label, I’m pleased to see a fair crowd already in the venue, waiting for their arrival on stage.
Dead Label are a 3 piece from County Kildare in Ireland who play fast, angry metal. Angry isn’t a very descriptive adjective but it sums up this band quite aptly. There is a palpable anger eminating from the stage! Also, remarkably for a 3 piece, the sound is full and lacks no power.
Daniel O’Grady (vocals and bass) is screaming his heart out and the guitar of Daniel Hall fills the venue nicely. Unusually, they also have a female drummer in Claire Percival – playing a mean blast beat and some nifty double bass work.
No strangers to big stages, having supported Machine Head in 2012, they look very comfortable playing live and despite playing a very short set, they definitely make a positive impression on the crowd (and me too).
Take a quick look at YouTube, you’ll see what I mean about angry!
Dead Label Setlist
Throne of Bones
Are You Ready To Kill
Salvation in Sacrifice
Next up are a band that I was looking forward to seeing having heard really good things about them – Once Human. Some impressive credentials including Logan Mader on guitar. Mader was in Machine Head when they wrote and recorded “Burn My Eyes” – still one of the best metal albums ever in my opinion.
He basically gave up live music, preferring production. Once Human, however, sees his return to the live arena, there is much curiosity and interest in Once Human specifically because he is playing guitar.
Originally a collaboration between Mader and Aussie musician Lauren Hart, they have recruited a solid set of musicians to complete the lineup. I suppose comparisons will inevitably be made to Arch Enemy because of the female growled vocals and a similar sound. Think of them as a slightly rough around the edges Arch Enemy (and that’s not meant to be a put down).
Hart shrieks and growls her heart out, she’s only small but covers ground around the stage like a woman possessed. And they all look pretty happy to be playing this evening, their first visit to the UK.
They bash through a shortish set, highlights include “Time of the Disease” and the title track of the current album “The Life I Remember”.
The current album is multi layered and works on many levels with clean singing, growls, piano, keys etc. Live though, it all ends up sounding too much like a wall of noise with too few breakdowns to be the glue that holds the rest together. It certainly is a full blown assault on the ears! There are glimpses of what this band could go on to create for sure but they maybe need to break the set up a little next time…..
They close with a cover of Machine Heads “Davidian” (which Mader helped to write). This is such a strong song it only highlights some of the weaknesses in their own songs sadly. Great way to finish though and I am definitely looking forward to the next album and the next visit of Once Human to the UK.
Once Human Setlist
Pick Your Poison
The Life I Remember
Time Of The Disease
So, it is left to Fear Factory to finish off the evening in style. And, boy, did they do that. This was billed as a celebration of the 20 year anniversary of “Demanufacture” and sees the band playing the whole album in full.
This is an iconic album that sounded great then and still sounds amazing now and has been immensely influential. Fear Factory start as expected with the title track and from the first chords you can tell this is going to be a special show.
The sound is great, the drums (so important to the FF sound) of Mike Heller sound clear and crisp and Dinos guitar is razor sharp. Burton C Bells voice also sounds as per the album and is close enough to pitch perfect as you can expect for a live performance like this.
Every track has the same kind of familiarity as an old friend who you haven’t seen in ages. “Replica” and the awsome “New Breed” all sound fabulous. Dino is like the ultimate rhythm guitarist, with such a full sound, you can’t beleive there is only a single guitarist on stage. The double bass drums matching and driving the rhythms perfectly.
Only the Head of David cover “Dog Day Sunrise” slows the pace (and I have to admit, this is one that gets skipped when listening to the album!). “H-K” sounds great and “Piss Christ” sees the whole room singing along with “….Where is your saviour now?”.
It’s left to “A Therapy for Pain” with its’ morose keyboard intro to close up the set. An epic of a song it showcases why this album was indeed so influential, mixing and matching so many styles and ging to musical places that other bands just weren’t touching at the time.
A short break and then Fear Factory are back for an encore compising of songs their 1998 album Obsolete and the latest album Genexus. All delivered with the same precision and power. Closing the evening with “Martyr” from their first album is the perfect closer.
This is the best I’ve ever seen Fear Factory, not a foot misplaced. The perfect set and a great sound too. Definiitely one of the best gigs of the year, possibly the best. High praise indeed.
Fear Factory Setlist
Self Bias Resistor
Dog Day Sunrise (Head of David cover)
A Therapy for Pain