Metropolis, Fremantle, WA
June 8th, 2016
Support – Make Way for Man, Circles
It was billed as firstly, the ‘Regeneratour’ in support of Fear Factory’s 2015 album, Genexus, then morphed into a ‘Choose Your Own Fear Factory Adventure’, with fans able to vote on songs they wanted to hear at these shows. Unfortunately, it seems the old favourites dominated the voting and hence the set list was virtually a greatest hits package with only ‘Resurrection’ from 1998’s Obsolete album, rearing its head following a few years absence. Still, any Fear Factory is good Fear Factory to this reviewers ears and having witnessed their crushing show at Melbourne’s Soundwave Festival 2015, the anticipation was fever pitch in the lead up. So much so, I even forked out $60US to head along to the Fear Factory Meet ‘N Greet.
Having seen Fear Factory every time they stepped foot into Perth since 1993 I felt obliged to encompass all the love I have for this band and actually head along and meet these guys, get a few things signed and of course have the obligatory photo. Meet ‘N Greet’s can be hit or miss. Some bands charge an astronomical fortune to meet the band and you end up not being able to get anything signed, sometimes not even a photo (Black Sabbath!). I can safely say Fear Factory is a band for the fans – they embrace the love. The quartet were happy sign to anything and I mean anything as several fans lifted up shirts or jeans and had the band’s scribblings all over their body parts, ready I presume, for some fresh tattoo ink tomorrow morning. Burton C.Bell and Dino Cazares are simply two of the nicest guys in metal. Tony Campos may not smile much for the camera (LOL) but he’s a very approachable guy and Mike Heller is happy to join in the festivities too. On top of photos and signings, the band also included a t-shirt, bandana and lanyard into the VIP experience- all for $60 US! So in summary – look out for the VIP option next time Fear Factory hit town, it was well worth the extra coin.
Supporting the industrial machine on this leg were Perth’s local super-group amalgamation, Make Way for Man, a band featuring members of Saviour, Sparrow and This Other Eden, and the prog rock sounds of Melbourne’s Circles. Make Way for Man have a unique sound and the early punters certainly had their interest piqued as the unique sight of duel vocals from Sean Hendry and John Kelly hit the mikes. The band have an EP out, Evolve & Repair and have secured several high-profile support slots for touring bands on the west coast. It seems there is no limit for this band and hype is defiantly building around this sextet. Sonically they motion between killer breakdowns to ambient tech solos to an almost a pop punk sound. It’s a lot to get your head around, but the energy these guys expel on stage no doubt created a great atmosphere heading into Melbourne’s Circles.
Circles have been around since 2009, however this was my first time seeing the band live. Wow, have I been missing out! These guys are incredible. Perry Kakridas’ vocal range is stunning. Described as prog-metal the band waiver between a Twelve Foot Ninja sound though are heavier in places; think heavy Periphery songs. Hopefully a new album is on the way shortly as 2013’s Infinitas and a few EP’s are not enough having witnessed these guys play. Back to Kakridas – his range is simply killer. When there is a need for a more guttural range, he nails it, and between that there is melody and some intense powerful moments where he just soars. Technical sequences play out before melody folds into their sound. To be completely honest, I wasn’t expecting much seeing this band when noises came from the east about the band sounding like Karnivool or similar. It seems Karnivool is the be all and end all of comparisons for prog bands in Australia. Whilst Karnivool are awesome, Circles have a unique sound of their own – heavier, more grunt and dare I say, more technical nuances. I’m all aboard the Circles bandwagon and can’t wait to see what’s next for this band.
Onto to the main act, industrial machines – Fear Factory! After an elongated industrial ambient intro the quartet hit the stage to raucous noise from a packed Fremantle legion, a nice mix of young and old all transfixed to the stage. Upon it, Dry Lung Martyr, Mr Burton C.Bell, clad in Surgical Meth Machine attire, the bearded tank Tony Campos, bespectacled master drummer Mike Heller and a chair bound Dino Cazares, his foot in some sort of moon boot after damaging it in Melbourne. The double kick intro begins, ‘We are Fear Factory’ bellows Bell, you know what’s next. Pandemonium hits, the moshpit explodes, “Descentized by the values of life”, and so on. It seems everyone in the club knows the words to most songs, ‘Demanufacture’ an obvious choice to kickstart the night.
‘Self Bias Resistor’ smashes in with that machine gun riff from Cazares, who whilst confined to a chair to the right of stage, still head bangs away encouraging crowd participation with every riff and lyric. A few more Fear Factory staples follow, ‘What Will Become’ from 2001’s Digimortal, before ‘Shock’ and ‘Edgecrusher’ from Obsolete bring back memories from the late ’90s. Bell seems enthused by the crowd’s reaction, “Can you feel it, Perth”?
Following the crushing ‘Powershifter’ complete with the killer lyric, “You want war, you got war”, the band introduce three songs from last year’s stellar album, Genexus, starting with ‘Soul Hacker’. “You’ll never take my soul”, Bell screams! It seems the vast majority of fans actually have this album as the three Genexus tracks are sung with as much fervour as any other on the setlist, a nice surprise for Bell and gang, who seem to garnish more energy and power from the vocal enthusiasm of the Fremantle throng. ‘Regenerate’ and ‘Anodoized’ continue the Genxus moments, the latter another poignant moment for Bell to shine and highlight his recent vocal training and no alcohol policy on tours, which is clearly working a treat.
The highlight of the night, without a doubt comes when Bell introduces ‘Resurrection’, from Obsolete. The Cazares riff envelopes this song but when Bell hits those high clean notes the hairs are raised. It really was a spine tingling moment on a track not played on the Fear Factory register for a few years.
A funny moment ensues when Bell starts to introduce playing a song from their first album beginning to tell a story before ex-Static X bass player, Tony Campos gently whispers to Bell that ‘Archetype’ was next. “Ahh, fuck it”, Bell screams before launching into, “You must never forget, the essence of your spark”, and so on, Campos quietly grinning beneath his behemoth beard. Concluding the track, the audience break out into a spontaneous ‘Fear Factory’ chant, as if inspired by Bell’s searching vocal on the last song. Cazares breaks off into 15 second solo and then follows along with Mike Heller’s beats to the chant. Bell jokes, “Let’s make a Fear Factory song”, before releasing the futility of the chant, “…maybe it needs more work”.
The band conclude with three more staples. ‘Martyr’ complete with the whole ‘Suffer Bastard’ crowd sing-a-long, the bludgeoning ‘Scapegoat’ and finally ‘Replica’ from the iconic Demanufacture album. “I don’t want to live that way”!
As I’ve stated many times over this review, I’ve seen Fear Factory every tour since 1993, but this is without a doubt the best Burton C.Bell has ever sounded. There were times, in the late ’90s, early ’00s were Bell’s voice was at a breaking point particularly on the crossover from guttural to clean vocal. Not this time. If it was auto-tune I really don’t care, I couldn’t pick it and Bell deserves all the help he can get with such taxing songs. A very encouraging sign for the future of Fear Factory.
In the battle of Man vs Machine, it seems ‘Man’ is still winning the battle at this stage. 10 out of 10 Fear Factory.
What Will Become?
Check out the full photo gallery below – click on the images to make larger.
Photos courtesy of Jerika Faithfull. Please do not use without permission.
MAKE WAY FOR MAN