Fear Factory

Pumpehuset, Copenhagen - 2016

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

It’s been some three years since the last time we saw Fear Factory in Denmark, and a little bit over one year since we saw them last time if we disregard the place.
Since their last visit here, they’ve put out a new album, Genexus, but it was out when we saw them at Metaldays last year, so the question what news did they have in store for us this time.
The simple truth is, not much. Then again, Fear Factory is, with its more than 25 years running, a band which already has a score of highly memorable albums and songs to their name. Did we really need something new, or was it fine enough revisiting that great back catalogue?

“What’s up Copenhagen?! Make some fucking noise!”
- Burton C. Bell (vocals)

Alright, let’s just reveal our hand right out – it was good enough just revisiting those same old songs!
But let’s start at the beginning, it seems as good a place as any.
It was surprising, not to say a little bit disappointing, to see that Fear Factory would be playing in the small downstairs hall of Pumpehuset. Not that I mind that stage per se, except possibly that it a bit low so the people in the middle and back can’t see as well, but I was saddened by the fact that they hadn’t been able to pull enough tickets to move them up to the larger venue upstairs.
Accepting that part however, we were left with the choice of hanging back on the stairs, to get a good overview, or making our way up as close to the front as possible. Even though they hadn’t managed to move enough tickets for the large hall, they had managed to pull an impressively large, and warm, number of people on this late August evening, and we thus opted to get as close as possible. Making our move just as the support band, Textures, bid their farewell, we managed to snag a couple of front row places, and this is definitely where the smaller venue really shows its strength.
The sheer intensity of standing only a few inches, yes inches, away from Bell’s sweaty face (did I mention it was warm as hell itself in here?) is something that cannot be replicated in a larger room, with a larger stage.

Apart from Bell, who is at this point the only member to be featured on all albums, Fear Factory had kept the line-up consisting of mastermind Dino Cazares on guitar, Mike Heller on drums, and the ever-smiling Tony Campos on bass. These are all some hard-hitting boys, and the question was whether or not the stage would be large enough for them?
It was a bit cramped, sure, and something tells me they may have had more in the way of decorations that larger venues would benefit from, but couldn’t fit in here. As it were, there was the backdrop, and special drumskins on the bass drums, depicting some form of industrial building. Cazares didn’t even showcase his large amount of album designed guitars – he had his Demanufacture guitar on as they came on (fittingly, as they opened with Demanufacture), and changed back and forth with a plain, red guitar through the show.
That was ok however, because the most important part was whether or not the band could deliver a show, and that they could, regardless of what they had to work with!
Fear Factory delivered a fast and violent show, not leaving much room for catching your breath in between the heavy song choices. Bell delivered only a few generic comments, but on the plus side, he delivered his most stable and high-quality vocal performance to date!
Cazares backed him up a few times, but other than that he was free to play and move about, and move about he did. Campos and Cazares often switched side of the stage with each other, and they were both in good contact with the crowd in front of them all the way through. Heller was a bit more anonymous, for good reason of course, but he could be seen locking eyes with some people in the crowd at times, and cracking a smile as he did so.

The crowd was certainly smiling as well. They got a band that was at the top of their game, and a setlist that, apart from a few new cuts from Genexus, delivered a pretty straight up best of experience. It could have been longer, but that’s about the worst complaint I can find.
As it were, we were all shouting and screaming our lungs out as we were flying across the tracks of the Fear Factory machine. This wasn’t just going to hurt in the morning, this was going to leave a lasting mark on our vocal chords!
I admit, the experience was intense enough to bring me into full on teenager mode, headbanging and singing my mushy brain out! It was insane, and I loved every second of it!
Standing front row and centre as I was, and experiencing this mastodon of a concert, I didn’t have much focus on what was going on in the crowd around me, but I could see my enthusiasm reflected in the eyes of those standing immediately to my sides, and I could feel the pressure of those behind me coming in waves as they were certainly thrashing around back there.

This goes to show, some bands doesn’t necessarily need to bring something new to the table, to get out on the road. Not as long as they can create such an intense experience with what they already have.
Don’t misunderstand me, Fear Factory are welcome to produce more albums, and will certainly be there to buy them as well, but it doesn’t need to take three years and a new album for them to feel welcomed back to our shores. They can drop by any day.


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