Live Gig Review and Photos by: Zenae Zukowski
There has never been a specific way to categorize the Metal band that is Fear Factory. It was during the early nineties as they introduced a distinct aggressive sound mixed with a one of a kind signature guitar riff by Dino Cazares and unique vocals from clean to blistering filth of Burton C. Bell. Many have been hooked since their 1992 debut of Soul of a New Machine. However, it was 1995’s Demanufacture that has brought them to an acclaimed status and considered a highly influential act. Categorize them however you want including Industrial Metal, Nu Metal, Groove Metal, or even Cyber Metal; I classify them as Fear Factory Metal. The band has had their ups and downs over the years, but it was proven with the ninth studio release of 2015’s Genexus that there’s an exuberant amount of steam left for these guys. Recently the band decided to take a break touring in direct support of Genexus to celebrate the Twenty year anniversary of Demanufacture. The near two-month tour has been selling out across North America where New York City fans were able to have not one but two shows at the Gramercy Theatre. The first show kicked off on April 6th where the second NYC appearance landed on Monday, April 11th, and I certainly was there for this unforgettable experience.
Opening the evening was New York City’s Heavy Metallers Martyrd. The venue was about halfway full. However, they drilled into their set fueling in a Progressive mixed with an 80s Thrash sound. Mesmerizing to watch from the get-go as the early bird crowd began to headbang. Martyrd warned the audience about an upcoming new album, as their new music would have a speedier sound. The coarse and brief set concluded with “Faceless” as they thanked both Soilwork and Fear Factory for being part of the tour. Hopefully, there will be more to see from these guys especially after the release of their upcoming album.
Next up were the Progressive Metalcore band from Los Angeles, Spades and Blades. The energy was non-stop throughout the entire set as they had every intention to get the whole crowd to form a massive circle pit. The house was packed at this point, where frontman Jason Todd ensured the audience would be ready for Fear Factory. He also wanted to inform the audience that New York was their home that night and thanked the crowd for extending the Metal family to them and asked if everyone liked what they were hearing. The crowd cheered with acceptance as Todd continued to show his gratitude and thanked everyone for supporting the music scene. It was my personal first time seeing them live, and I would be back to see them again.
Swedish Melodic Death Metallers, Soilwork were on next, and they powerfully opened up with the titled track of their latest album, The Ride Majestic. It wasn’t too long ago when they were in New York last fall with Soulfly. However, it is always a pleasure to catch Soilwork when they are in town. Frontman Björn “Speed” joked with the audience expressing how it has been five long days since they were in New York and continued with their heavy set with tracks “Nerve” from 2005’s Stabbing the Drama and the classic “The Chainheart Machine.” Circle pits and mayhem ignited throughout the set as Soilwork continued to destroy Gramercy Theatre with songs “The Crestfallen,” “The Momentary Bliss,” “The Living Infinite I” and “Petrichor By Sulphur.” Björn asked if anyone in the crowd were there on the previous Wednesday as a few screamed. Björn looked surprised to see that there was a whole new crowd in the pit that evening and moved into the next song, “Tongue.” The set slowed down slightly during “Let the River Flow,” which did not last too much time as they slashed into “Late For the Kill, Early for the Slaughter” next. The set brutally moved with merciless energy including dueling guitar solos as the moshers in the pit did not lose their steam as well. Björn looked into the audience and informed all that there was room for one more song as he had a feeling the crowd knew the words to the next track. Wanting to hear the room sing, he thanked everyone for being part of the family that night and promised all that they will be back real soon around next Fall and concluded their set with “Stabbing the Drama.” Look out for their upcoming tour dates but, in the meantime check out their latest Ride the Majestic album if you haven’t yet.
Finally, it was time for the room to enter a time warp as though the year was 1995. Fear Factory controlled the venue with their innovative Heavy Metal sound mixed with Technical mastery where they are the only ones to pull officially off well. It was the first riff alone in “Demanufacture” that brought out a unique energy in the audience. I had seen Fear Factory live before including last summer when they opened up for Coal Chamber at Irving Plaza. However, there was something different about this night, and perhaps it was due to hearing Demanufacture performed in its entirety live. The opening forceful song “Demanufacture” alone held out an aggression that many have loved over the years. This stamina continued to pick up during “Self Bias Resistor” and “Zero Signal.” This was a Monday evening, and I was personally exhausted, yet, Fear Factory woke me up as the album continued to play live with tracks “Replica,” “New Breed” and “Dog Day Sunrise.” It was during this part when I let loose and headbanged along with the crowd as Fear Factory tends to dominate and control the audience. Songs from Demanufacture continued to flow with “Body Hammer,” “Flashpoint,” and “H-K (Hunter-Killer).” It was during “Pisschrist” where Bell had everyone shout out “where is your savior” over and over again. The final song “A Therapy for Pain” concluded the album as many questioned if there was going to be an encore.
After an adrenalized set, Fear Factory returned with seven more songs, making it technically a second full set. Opening with “What Will Become?” from 2001’s Digimortal had many screams and continued with the next “Archetype.” Bell asked the crowd if anyone listened or bought their new album Genexus. He asked those that have purchased it to raise their hands, as he thanked those fans individually and moved into new tracks “Soul Hacker” and “Regenerate.” It was after hearing the new tunes when Bell decided to play a Jedi mind trick to the fans. He asked if they liked what they heard that they should go to the merchandise table to buy the album. The delightful taunts continued, as the band knew it was a Monday evening, where many had work or school the following day, but no one seemed to care since that night it was all about Fear Factory as they went into “Shock” from 1998’s Obsolete. The band had shown love for each other and the audience before they went into “Edgecrusher.” Bell thanked NYC and all the places they performed including Irving Plaza, and it was a surprise to hear him mention Roseland Ballroom.
What I enjoyed seeing was the friendship shown between Bell and Dino, as Bell complimented Dino’s signature riff and Dino praised Bell’s one of a kind clean and heavy vocals. The band united together and said, “together we are Fear fucking Factory” and asked if the crowd wanted to hear more where everyone screamed as they went into the infamous “Martyr” from 1992’s Soul of a New Machine. It was this song where Jason Todd from Spades And Blades joined in on vocals and well, members from all of the bands joined on the stage for the finale. All I could say is, what a night! This Demanufacture tour is one no one should miss and hopefully all four bands will come around soon enough.