In June of 1995, Los Angeles based Industrial Metal group Fear Factory released a prophetic masterpiece that not only was, to this day, well ahead of it’s time but has withstood the test of time in their second studio full length album, Demanufacture. Not only did it’s existence essentially foreshadow the future of metal, the reliance of technology, but it changed the sound of metal from that point forward. In it’s 20 year anniversary, Fear Factory has undertaken a worldwide headlining tour performing the album in it’s entirety at every stop with Swedish melodic death metal band Soilwork in support and on Thursday, April 14th, they took on the mighty stage of the World Famous Agora Ballroom in Cleveland, OH.
When I was contacted by my editor to cover this show, it was zero hesitation. I’ve wanted to see Fear Factory even more since the Columbus, OH date was canceled and this was my chance. With 8 total bands and 2 stages, the night was frantic from start to finish swapping from stage to stage with smaller local acts playing in the Ballroom and Fear Factory, Soilwork and supporting tour bands playing the Theater. The other interesting thing worth noting about this night was that the Agora was fairly packed despite the fact that Killswitch Engage was two miles down the road playing to a sold out House of Blues. Metal fans in Cleveland are plentiful.
For the sake of this piece, we will be focusing on the supporting Soilwork and, of course, Fear Factory
Kicking off the touring nationals, Soilwork took control of the HUGE theater of the Agora. As a side note, this was my first time actually seeing this side of the Agora as my only other time being there previously was for Veil of Maya and Born of Osiris who performed in the Ballroom but I digress. This was my first time experiencing Soilwork live. Not only did they have plenty of energy, cheese for the camera, but they also genuinely looked like they were having fun playing together, which is sometimes lacking in many bands your see these days. There simply was a genuine excitement to be on a stage that large. Front and center of the stage was Björn Strid, founding member and vocals who has some of the meanest pipes in the business with his melodic cleans and powerful growls. There was a presence about him every time he commanded the attention and energy of the Agora. Joining him was guitarist Sylvain Coudret, keyboard wizard Sven Karlsson, newest member Markus Wibom on bass and the always impressive Dirk Verbeuren, which as a drummer, I’ve been waiting a while to see live. I’ve enamored over the “Dirk Blast” for years.
The only member of the current lineup missing from the stage is guitarist David Andersson due to Doctors orders. Filling his role on stage is Mr. Ronny Gutierrez of Shaggy. No that’s not a typo and I’m here to tell you, the guy can rip! There wasn’t a moment in their 50 minutes on stage that I didn’t doubt his inclusion there. Not only is it pretty freakin’ sweet that he plays with Shaggy, but it’s just proof that diversity in your playing can open you up to more opportunity but being a better, well-rounded player overall.
Now, onward to the headliner, you know who…
After a very brief changover and the raising of the HUGE Fear Factory backdrop, the lights were killed leaving only dim blue front lighting while the erie rumbling of “Demanufacture” played. The pounding of Mike Hellers kick drum cut through the darkness as guitarist Dino Cazares appeared stage left in the dim blue light to deliver, what is considered by many, one of the heaviest riffs of all-time. Shortly joining stage right was newest bass player Tony Campos. Once the song was off, the voice of the legendary industrial band, Burton C. Bell came center stage and began to tell us the story of a man struggling to live in world with a machine-controlled government, song by song a chapter in his life.
Song after song, the crowd chanted lyrics along with Burton as he encouraged crowd participation and commanded you listen to the story being told. There was never a dull moment and very little breaks as they blazed through the legendary album on it’s 20th anniversary.
I’m going to state again, the Theater at the Agora is HUGE and for a 4 Man band, they made good use of all space available. While in there, it seemed like drummer Mike Heller was a mile away but this didn’t stop Burton from going back to the riser and involving him in the theatrics. Dino and Tony would frequently swap sides to ensure fans were included in seeing them and Burton made sure he was frequently at the edge of the stage to be as close to the crowd as possible.
Fear Factory have 15 dates left on tour and I highly suggest you see one of them:
4/20 Q and Z Expo Center- Ringle, WI
4/21 The Rave- Milwaukee, WI
4/22 Pop’s- Sauget, IL
4/23 Aftershock- Merriam, KS (SOLD OUT)
4/24 Summit Music Hall- Denver ,CO
4/26 In The Venue -Salt Lake City ,UT
4/27 Hitt Event Center-Idaho Falls ,ID
4/29 Revolution Concert House Boise ID
4/30 El Corazon- Seattle, WA
5/1 Hawthorne Theatre- Portland ,OR
5/3 Slims- San Francisco, CA
5/4 LVCS- Las Vegas,NV
5/5 Brick by Brick San Diego CA
5/6 Marquee Theatre Tempe AZ
5/7 Fonda -Theatre Los Angeles CA
Suggested Fear Factory listening:
All of it, you filthy fucking casual. Go out and experience this band with complete immersion.