It’s always a busy night when Fear Factory come to town, but with the rain lashing down on a bleak and dark Wolverhampton evening, there was quite a buzz in KK Steelmill and with good reason… There were three support bands along for the ride! Ghosts of Atlantis, Ignea
GHOSTS OF ATLANTIS
and Butcher Babies all gracing the stage before the headline act and it seemed all three had a decent representation in the crowd. Ignea hailed from the Ukraine and in my opinion were the best of the bunch, the vocalist, a diminutive lass named Helle Bohdanova, which belied her ability to scream with the best of them! Butcher Babies were sadly a man, or rather a woman down, as Carla Harvey had suffered an eye injury the night before, and so for the first time ever Heidi Shepherd was left to perform the vocals herself, which in all fairness she handled with aplomb. Stand out song from this set: ‘Last December’, a song sung with passion, meaning, and a gentleness which touched even my blackened heart.
Speaking of being a man down, this would be the first year with Milo Silvestro as the new singer with Fear Factory, leaving guitarist (and backing vocals) Dino Cazares as the only original member still serving. While ambling through the crowd a friend commented that “This was going to be the best tribute band ever” with an amused smirk and the cynic in me was pondering if this was perhaps a common attitude and maybe this was why the presence of three support bands might’ve been planned, to ensure a good sized crowd and atmosphere for Milo to work with. This might also go some way to explaining why the headlining band had only been allocated an hour and fifteen minutes, gently breaking him in to the fanbase.
What was noticeable from the start was the drums. FF have always had that distinctive beat, loud, almost crass in its rawness, and driving, and the even newer Pete Webber, of Havok fame has taken on that responsibility brilliantly. Fear Factory need that to sound like.. well.. Fear Factory! The last time I saw them perform was back in 2012 at Download, and it was good to see the focal point was still the same. It was needed to be too though, as knocking out 17 songs in 75 minutes is quite a feat but that’s what they managed here. What was also genuinely impressive was the inclusion of tracks from not one, or two albums, but nine! “Obsolete” was the most represented, with five, and then “Demanufacture” with four, all of which served to get the crowd into a frenzy. The opener ‘Shock’ came from the aforementioned “Obsolete” which set the pace, and instantly there’s a pit formed, but it’s ‘Edgecrusher’, song number two for me that says these guys know what they’re doing. It’s such a contrast in class from the previous bands’ who’ve been on stage before them. The audience seem to think so too and they’re bellowing it like their lives depended on it.
From the whole playlist, the stand out song for me was ‘Archetype’, from the album of the same name. The guitar is crisp, and suitably angry, cutting even, Dino’s enjoying himself, the crowd are too, and mid-set I’m aware any scepticism about the performance has gone. The crowd finish the song off with them singing, “open your eyes” in unison, over and over and the whole room has a moment. ‘Disruptor’ was interesting, sounding more like old Sepultura or Pantera for the whole song, but with an amusing “You fat bastard” chant which tickled me, mostly because the first band I ever saw live, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, use it. ‘Linchpin’ is basically sung by the crowd rather than Milo, (who’s actually sporting a haircut not unlike Jim Bob’s from Carter), but then that could be said of all of the “Demanufature” songs too. It’s clear that the audience know their stuff, but so do the band. It’s no coincidence that the four from this album are four of the last five songs, ‘Replica’ being the last of them, was performed well enough that I now find myself as the owner of a spanking new long sleave FF top! Surprisingly though the song from “Obsolete” ‘Resurrection’ that finishes the night off. I’ve been suitably charmed by how well Fear Factory have stood up and been counted here. Violent staccato guitar blasts, rampant percussion, and in the new singer there’s a frontman who’s both capable and affable enough to fill some big shoes. By including songs from so many albums it’s clear that this iteration of Fear Factory intend to not just embrace their past, but use it to catapult themselves forward again. From what I saw, it appears to be working.
Fear Factory’s music can be found on all good streaming services.