It’s been awhile since I have seen Fear Factory in action and that was for a number of reasons when it came down to it. The first was based on the band kind of splitting up and reuniting at the same time at around April 2009 and the band that I “knew” as Fear Factory would cease to exist while one that was a little more familiar to legacy fans took shape. I admit that I was a newer fan of the bands body of work but I did always enjoy their shows and was saddened by some of the decisions they made for the sake of the “good of the name”. Anyways, they had just released the new album “Mechanize” which was getting solid reviews across the board and they had embarked on their “Fear Across America” tour which brought along Divine Heresy, After The Burial and 36 Crazyfists. The show was at Irving Plaza and here is how the night went down for those who had interest.
Divine Heresy: Sadly I would walk in just as this band was completing their set as the times were not clear as to when it was starting off after doors opened but that was okay as I had only recently saw Divine Heresy and they were not much my cup of tea. The band is heavy and features Dino Cazares of Fear Factory along with Tim Yeung on drums (who is killer), but I think I need a little more exposure to them to figure what it is all supposed to be about. I had seen the band with their then new singer Travis Neal when they toured with Moonspell last year and had felt they were a mismatch for the Gothic Metal sound of that particular band. Fast forwarding to today I had to say that I did find it amusing that Cazares own newer band was opening up for the group he was once again a member of though. After The Burial was up almost immediately after their set had finished.
After The Burial: I don’t recall ever seeing ATB in concert before tonight so I was approaching their set as an education into their style and delivery. The band is on Sumerian Records which is a label that seems to be catering to these Progressive Metalcore and Deathcore bands of late so I expected these dudes to be of that genre classification. I was correct in the assumption and for an opening band felt that they were doing some good up there. While I didn’t know too many of their songs I did know that their latest album is called “In Dreams” and is available on Sumerian along with a re-issue of their “Rareform” CD. To gauge them after one show I would have to say that it was pretty good and I would be willing to see them again. Up next, the 36 Crazyfists.
36 Crazyfists: Straight outta Kenai, Alaska came the direct support for the night in 36 Crazyfists and this is a band that we have seen on a wide variety of shows in various spots in the running order. I haven’t seen them since their appearance with In Flames in late 2008 and that was okay by me since it depends on my mood and the show itself whether I will enjoy them or not. The band is a no holds barred Metalcore act and they have been around the block a number of times and also on a number of labels. They went from Roadrunner Records to DRT and now sit firmly on Ferret Music which I think is a good fit for them. Their latest release is entitled “Collisions and Castaways” and it would be officially released on the Tuesday following this particular show. Fronted by Brock Lindow, the band was full throttle energy from the opening tune, a new one, “In The Midnights” and it didn’t sound bad. The would not focus too much on this release since most people didn’t have it yet unless they downloaded it illegally somewhere and instead chose to focus their core of the set on their back catalog with tunes from “The Tide And Its Takers”, “Rest Inside The Flames” and “A Snow Capped Romance” Come to think of it, the band seemed to be paying attention to every one of their albums which was interesting to observe in a direct support slot. I guess they wanted to leave the crowd with a solid foundation if they were new to the bands sound. While I can say that I usually enjoy 36CF in concert, I could safely say that the audience was not all that supportive and I felt that they were saving their energy for the imminent assault to be delivered by Fear Factory. There were some fans that I spoke to that also felt that there should have been a “better” or “different” band in the main support slot as well as this was a band that they were not all that interested in anymore. Despite those views, the guys did their job well and were done before you knew it. Now it was time for the “return” of Fear Factory.
Fear Factory: So I mentioned how there were some changes in the Fear Factory camp and let me quickly outline them for you. I was NOT one of their loyalists back in the early days, so the band I came to know as FF was Burton, Ray, Christian and Byron. They toured a lot and we covered them several times and always felt it was a Metal hurricane inside whatever venue it was but this year a new lineup was announced as Burton reunited with founding guitarist Dino Cazares and would continue with Stroud on bass but the drums would be monster master player Gene Hoglan. At the same time of this lineups activity both drummer Herrera and guitarist Wolbers are keeping active with the band Arkaea while also fighting with Bell and Cazares about the usage of the name Fear Factory since both are still considered active members of the group. You will have to tune into Bravewords.com for additional episodes of “As The Metal Band Turns” since I need to get back to the concert report. If you have ever seen a video clip or a show of Fear Factory before you know that they hit the ground running and this would be the case tonight without question. As a front man, Burton Bell is right up in the audience’s faces and leans over the security barrier pit to incite frenzy in his ardent fans and of course as soon as they took to the stage the bodies were flying. There was a healthy mosh pit brewing in the center of the venue while crowd surfer after crowd surfer made their way into the waiting arms of the security folks. They would open up with the new albums title track “Mechanize” and while the album had been out for several months it was all still pretty new to me. I liked the reaction it got that was for sure and feared for my safety when the band thundered into “Shock” from their 1998 3rd album “Obsolete”.
Despite this being perceived as “the new Fear Factory” by many, it did not seem to matter in the eyes of the audience tonight because you had the original voice and the original founding guitarist back in command of the enterprise again with their long time bassist and crushing drum skills of Hoglan. Now I am a big fan of how Ray Herrera plays in this band but felt that if someone else had to be selected at least it was someone as technically proficient as he was. We get that in spades with Hoglan. As the set progressed it was more about the musical delivery than idle stage banter and that was fine by me. I didn’t want this to be a talky show since that would ruin the momentum of the show. They would deliver four tunes from the new “Mechanize” release and touch upon a number of the other trinkets from their back catalog but after looking at the set list post show, seemed to avoid the “Transgression” album entirely. Perhaps this was due to its being written entirely by Herrera and Wolbers. The show seemed to be coming to its end with “Demanufacture” which came to some as a surprise since we were only eleven songs in and this was the headliner set but that was a ruse as the guys returned for not one but four encore numbers. The would send the audience home into the hot summer air with two songs from “Demanufacture” in “H-K (Hunter-Killer)” and “Replica” and by doing so seemed to make this particular album the most represented at the show after the new release. One has to wonder if we shall soon see Fear Factory doing a tour where a full single album of note is performed as we find bands like Iron Maiden, Rush and Judas Priest doing. Only time will tell.
In the end this was an exciting show, but I think I would have swapped a couple of the openers and put a different direct support in myself to make it more than worth the audience dollar. If I gauged my understanding of the venue properly, the show while not originally sold out was completely packed by the night of the gig which is a good thing to observe. I have attended far too many shows where there was a less than admirable draw and that does no good for the Metal scene on the whole. Be sure to check out the new Fear Factory CD “Mechanize” and to follow the other dramatics going on in their camp by following popular news feeds like the aforementioned Bravewords.com. My Metal adventures would continue with the middle week appearance of Immolation and then when Michael Schenker Group hits town next weekend.
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Official Web Site: www.fearfactory.com
Official Web Site: www.myspace.com/36crazyfists
Official Web Site: www.myspace.com/aftertheburial
Official Web Site: www.myspace.com/divineheresy
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