2012 has truly been a good year for Fear Factory. After the return of Dino Cazares to the fold back in 2009 many of us were overjoyed (If you're unsure of what happened then check wikipedia, I'm not going to waste time explaining now...). and when they made a triumphant return to form with "Mechanize" back in 2010, I, along with no doubt many others were wondering if Burton C. Bell and company would be able to continue this newly revived popularity. The answer was a resounding yes, because this year's release "The Industrialist", a new concept album about machines and their role in man's demise, was truly spectacular. Knowing that they were once again at the top of their game and having not seen them since their brief appearance at Sonisphere UK 2010 I knew this would be an excellent chance to see them live and in full force.
After a journey to London taking well over 2 hours due to weather conditions and "engineering works" (thanks Greater Anglia Rail...), I arrived with my friend at KOKO in Camden and entered to find one of the most interesting venues I've ever attended a gig at. Formerly the Camden Palace Theatre, the venue has a small standing space that can hold roughly 1,000 or so, and has multiple levels and balconies on each side reaching up to the roof where a giant disco ball hangs, presumably for club nights. The late Victorian architecture is a marvellous sight.
Young English hopefuls Sacred Mother Tongue (8) are up first, and while being unfamiliar with the majority of their work I was regardless impressed by their energy and technicality, particularly from guitarist Andy James. The tracks "Evolve/Become" and "Seven" go down exceptionally well and overall their set is a fine start to the evening.
When the lights go down and Fear Factory (10) emerge I can tell instantly that this will be an enjoyable performance. Kicking into "The Industrialist" with a vigour that eclipses their 2010 Sonisphere UK performance in seconds. The entire crowd is with them and the band shows their gratitude by giving us a setlist of truly outstanding quality. Favourites from every album bar Archetype and Transgression (that period is clearly now a taboo topic in the Fear Factory camp...) are played and the crowd laps it up. The one-two salvo of "Shock" and "Edgecrusher" are definitely a highlight of the evening, seeing the entire crowd moshing like fuck and jumping around without a care in the world while singing every word is a beautiful sight.
After hearing "What Will Become?" for the first time in a decade the set continues with "Linchpin" and a couple of favourites from Mechanize. Half way through the set however we are treated to something truly extraordinary, something that no Fear Factory fan has witnessed in 13 years. They bust out "Cars". FUCKING CARS!!!! That's right, after not performing their Gary Numan cover live in over a decade, the band honours us with a special performance just for us. But anyway, enough gushing like a fanboy...
Musically, the band are every bit as tight as they were when I saw them last and just as tight as they sounded on record way back in the 90s. New drummer Mike Heller stays on beat with flawless precision, proving that he is every bit skilled enough to fill Gene Hoglan's shoes. And former Chimaira axeman Matt DeVries does admirably on bass. This lineup seems to mesh incredibly well and I'm confident that when it comes time to record again they'll amaze us. Dino is on terrific form as ever and Burton still has impressive vocal chops, nailing every song in excellent fashion.
As the evening begins to draw to a close we come to Fear Factory's crowning glory, the Demanufacture album. After the barrage of "Demanufacture", "Self Bias Resistor" and "Zero Signal" we reach the moment many fans have been waiting for all night. "Replica". With the trademark "Huh!!!", shouted by the entire crowd, everyone gets moving and the last song is a blur of bodies and shouting. Heaven.
This was a perfect night to be my last gig of the year. Apart from taking over 4 hours to get home (Greater Anglia, you're a bunch of dickheads...). I was so happy to see such a great show and look forward to the great gigs I've got planned in 2013.
And now I leave you for a couple of days until my last reviews before Christmas, and then my year end list. Until then, I'm out. PEACE!!!
Fear Factory Setlist:
- The Industrialist
- What Will Become?
- Fear Campaign
- Self Immolation
- Self Bias Resistor
- Zero Signal