Live Gig Report by Alan Daly
© Olga Kuzmenko
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko
The tail end of 2015 has seen some high profile shows vying for the unofficial title of “Metal gig of the year”, and tonight’s show is definitely another contender. Twenty years after their genre-defining album Demanufacture was unleashed, industrial metal legends Fear Factory are set to perform the seminal album in its entirety for the first time on Irish soil. Joining them on this European leg of the tour are the brand new band Once Human and our very own Dead Label.
Getting asked to support a legendary metal act on a 24-date jaunt across Europe must have been a dream come true for Celbridge-based Dead Label. Having previously provided local support for high-profile bands including Machine Head and Gojira, even greater things are surely destined for the trio, and their performance tonight on home turf is all the justification required.
Taking to the stage after what has become their trademark recorded Celtic intro track, ‘The Kiss’ which featured in the Last of the Mohicans movie, the starkly contrasting sound of Claire Percival thundering away on the drums and Dan O’Grady growling venomous vocals at the crowd is enough to wake up everybody in the Olympia. From the other side of the city. As usual, their live sound gets heads banging and fists pumping and Dan’s repeated instructions to “make some fucking noise” are dutifully obeyed by their hometown fans.
Next on the bill are Once Human featuring guitarist-turned-producer Logan Mader, formerly of Machine Head, along with previously unknown musicians. Fronting the fledgling five-piece is petite vocalist Lauren Hart, who both surprises and impresses with her demonic growls and roars. Wearing white, blood-stained jeans and a T-shirt bearing the words “You C*nt”, the brazen title of one of their fresh tracks, Hart introduces most of the songs on their setlist and the band blaze through about eight foot stomping tracks including ‘Pick Your Poison’, ‘Terminal’ and ‘Demoneyes’.
Having only released their debut album The Life I Remember just 3 short months ago, it’s not surprising that the audience are initially somewhat tame. That is, until Hart announces a special treat for the final song of their set. As she introduces Mader to the crowd, one can almost literally hear the pennies drop as she describes the finale as one he helped to write, and the opening bars of ‘Davidian’ sends half of the crowd into a frenzied mosh pit whilst the other half sing along loudly.
The stage is readied for tonight’s headliners, and the crowd wait patiently. Some may claim they have been waiting twenty years for tonight’s show. Waiting to hear Demanufacture performed live before their very own eyes and ears. Although founding members Burton C. Bell and Dino Cazares have brought the Fear Factory machine to Dublin a handful of times since its release in 1995, the majority of the songs were never played here before now, while others had never been played live before this tour at all.
An elaborate double bass drumkit bearing the album artwork sits in front of a huge backdrop featuring an industrial skyline and polluting chimney stacks. The rest of the stage is bare. This is the calm before the storm. The recorded intro of mechanical rumblings and spoken words of darkness and destruction at the will of the machines gives way to the explosive opening industrial drums and riff of the title track, rebooting the mosh pit that had started at the end of the Once Human set. The first three tracks sound as incredible as they do on the album, and when Bell states the obvious “You know what’s next”, ‘Replica’ kicks in and turns everything up to eleven. Of course, there are no surprises in the first half of the show. The only surprise might be just how great the material still sounds two decades later, particularly highlights ‘New Breed’ and ‘H-K (Hunter-Killer)’. After months on the road, Bell’s voice does seem a bit hoarse during the clean vocal parts and interactions with the crowd, but the energy and atmosphere onstage more than compensate.
Once the final notes of ‘A Therapy for Pain’ ring out, the band take a break that seems to last an eternity as fans eagerly anticipate and predict the forthcoming mixed set. The second half starts with two personal favourites ‘Shock’ and ‘Edgecrusher’, both from Obsolete. Then Bell thanks the audience for coming out to celebrate twenty years of Demanufacture, but reminds us that there’s another reason they are here; “Fear Factory have a new album out and it’s called Genexus. How would you like to hear three new songs?” he asks. The crowd seem to enjoy ‘Soul Hacker’, ‘Dielectric’ and ‘Regenerate’ as much as the classics, and during ‘Regenerate’, Cazares motions for a circle pit to form, prompting almost the entire floor to transform into a tornado of sweating bodies.
The show is clearly nearing its climatic end, and Bell again takes a moment to address the audience. He introduces the band, and questions the identity of their new bassist; “I’m not Kerry King” jokes Tony Campos, who recently left Soulfly to join long-time pal and Asesino bandmate Dino Cazares. They then invite guitarist Danny Hall from Dead Label onstage to sing him a happy birthday before pointing out that there is yet another milestone to celebrate; the 25th anniversary of the band. The final track of the night is ‘Martyr’ from their debut studio album Soul of a New Machine, giving the fans one final opportunity to go crazy.
Luckily, fans won’t have to wait long to see Fear Factory again as they are scheduled to perform at Bloodstock Open Air Festival in 2016, but it’ll be hard to top tonight’s show.