Fear Factory

Wacken - 2013

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

A new day dawned on Wacken, and with it came the age of the machine...
At least that is what the introductory speech to Fear Factory’s concert stated as the American cyber metal group opened the Black Stage on the last day of the festival.

“Fuck yeah Wacken, are you ready?!”
- Burton C. Bell (vocals)

Fuck yeah we were ready! But was the band?
Musically we were off to a terrific beginning, as the setlist had Demanufacture at the very top, but apart from bassist Matt DeVries there really wasn’t much to speak of performance-wise. In fact, I can’t recall any previous show where the band showed so little interest and vigour!
Sure enough, Bell was happy to talk to us between songs, but as soon as a track was started almost all motion stopped; the members stood in their places, headbanged a little, and didn’t really do anything to establish a connection with the crowd. Why this was I can’t rightfully say, maybe it was too early in the morning, maybe they had partied hard the day before and were hung over, most likely we’ll never know, but the way I see it, it doesn’t really matter all that much – the point is that this wasn’t good enough!

If the performance was a complete failure, then at least the setlist was the opposite.
Fear Factory had written down a list of songs that both included most of the live-classics, as well as including some jaw-dropping surprises!
The first four songs were, if not surprising to hear, at least a killer way to open a show and set the mood of the music really well, giving us all the energy and the power that the band members were failing in delivering; after this we got a look at the newer material as the band played some choice cuts from their two latest albums.
The real surprise came with Fear Factory playing Archetype and Cyberwaste. Yes, that’s not just one, but two entire songs from the time that Dino Cazares wasn’t in the band, something (for me) completely unheard of until this day! I know the two Cazares-less albums have taken many beatings over the years, and while undoubtedly not showing a Fear Factory at the peak of their career, they both still contain several tracks worthy of revisiting, the two above being a pair of them.
What’s more surprising is the fact that it was these particular tracks that were chosen now when it finally happened. I’ve always thought that these two dealt with the drama leading up to Cazares’ firing/leaving the band in the first place, sort of taking a final shot of aggression at the old (and now returned) guitarist.
Interpretation is as always up to the listener of course, but with lyrics like; “You are a virus spreading disease! Your life is so sad, spreading lies of me!” and “The infection has been removed, the soul of this machine has improved”, I can’t see them speaking of anything but cleansing and renewal, and given what had been going on in the band leading up to this point I think you can see what I’m getting at.
Be that as it may, one weird looking look between Cazares and Bell was all we got in the way of drama this day, a look most probably missed all together since it was so short.

If late nights and hangovers were troubling the fans, they didn’t let it stop them from getting out of their tents to see the show.
In the beginning however, the placidity of the band was reflected in the crowd, but slowly yet steadily at least the Wacken goers began to find their form again. There was a short take-over of the chorus of Demanufacture, this grew to a loud shouting of “Machines of hate” in Self Bias Resistor, and in Shock the body began working as well as several fists were thrust into the air and we even got some crowd-surfing going! Edgecrusher was next, and this really helped the crowd to loosen any restraints they might have carried around as they jumped along to the rhythm. The liveliness continued to grow throughout the set, and one can only regret that the band didn’t wake up in the same way, even with such good help as they were being offered.

“We are Fear Factory, and we will be back!”
- Bell (vocals)

Even being the enormous fanboy that I am of this band, I still can’t say in any way that this was a good, or even acceptable show. It had some nice points of interest, as mentioned above, but on the whole I was beginning to wonder if Fear Factory truly were over and done for as a live act. As I walked away, I wasn’t even sure whether they would be back or not, given the performance they had just given I couldn’t really see the point.


Self Bias Resistor
The Industrialist
What Will Become?

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