Twenty years since Demanufacture was released. Twenty-five years since the formation of Fear Factory. A sold-out Glasgow Garage. Two quality supports. This was destined to be a good night. With one long-time classic band, another new but formed by someone who’s been in the industry for some time and the final a bunch of upstarts on their first major tour we had a great cross-section of metal success at its various stages.
Unfortunately, due to our interview with Burton running on, we only caught the tail end of Dead Label’s set. They were playing to a venue that was over half full and visibly loving it. Their enthusiasm was infectious and, at least for the couple of songs we saw, they had the audience very much on their side.
Only a three-piece, they created enough noise to satisfy the fist-punchers and – speaking to the band afterwards – there were some folk down the front singing the words, which is great to hear. Brimming with confidence this is a band who have taken that tough opening slot and turned it to their advantage. Here’s hoping I get a second chance to catch them sometime soon, this time without missing most of their set!
Second to take the stage is another new act, Once Human. Formed by ex-Machine Head founder Logan Mader and fronted by the relatively unassuming-looking Lauren Hart, their debut album came out a couple of months ago but – like Dead Label – they had a handful of fans down the front who already knew the words.
No time was wasted at the start getting into things and they powered through a couple of songs before Hart engaged with the crowd for more than a few seconds. The sound was generally good for them, though the clean singing was a little quiet on the rare occasions it featured in the set. Mader, almost certainly the most experienced member of the group, kept himself to himself on stage left while the youngsters pranced around. Hart in particular reminds me of the likes of Delain’s Charlotte Wessels – she doesn’t just sing the songs, she’s in them; acting out each verse, sweeping her arms over the audience… And to think she was going to be chained to a guitar at one point!
Including radio-friendly “You Cunt” and the album title track “The Life I Remember”, their set could easily have been longer judging by the reaction of the crowd. The highlight, though, was their take on Machine Head’s “Davidian”. Does it count as a cover when the co-writer of the song is in your band? The best thing about it was that Once Human made it their own from rhythm to vocals. It’s always nice when I band does that.
All too soon, their slot was up and they left with the promise of an impromptu meet’n’greet at the merch stand.
After a rushed set change – the band only found out about the early curfew when they arrived – Fear Factory ambled on stage like the professionals they are to an enormous cheer. Burton began the set by saying simply “This is Demanufacture!” and they launched into the title track of the album we were here to celebrate. Ten tracks followed, in album order with hardly time to breathe between each song. A pit began almost from the first note and survived right up until the band left the stage at 10pm.
There must be songs on Demanufacture which haven’t been played live before this tour, but each track was played as if it belonged on the stage. What impressed me was that there were people in the crowd who certainly weren’t even born when the album came out who knew the words to every one of them. As Burton said in our interview pre-show, if you played it to a someone today they would think it’s contemporary. It absolutely hasn’t aged.
The same can’t be said of myself and I’m typing this up as my old body complains at me for enjoying the pit and the crowdsurfing too much, but it was a party! Burton’s voice, as well, isn’t what it was twenty years ago but was far better than when they were touring with Devin Townsend three years ago. That time around he simply couldn’t do the clean vocals and it was a shame as they’d included quite a few songs where they were important. Partly down to set choice, this wasn’t such a problem for this show. Mind you, he sounded like a teenage boy whose voice was breaking whilst talking to the audience near the end! Given that there’s only one date left on this run and the band have been on the road for a good few months now, it’s understandable.
The other long-time member, Dino, is actually looking comparatively svelte. It could just be me, but I think one of the most infamous “fat bastards” in metal has actually lost a little weight. Bedecked with his Demanufacture paint-job guitar he continues to churn out some of the catchiest riffs ever conceived to a crowd that just wanted to lap them up.
After “A Therapy For Pain” ended, the band took a couple of minutes to kindly allow the crowd a chance to draw breath before returning to the stage for what was effectively an extended six-track encore.Seeing as we’d had so long to chill out, we were assaulted with “Shock” to get us going again from the start followed by “Edgecrusher”.
We were then given the choice of whether to listen to three new songs from Genexus back to back. Let’s be honest, the band were going to play them anyway and its testament to the strength of this new album that they went down very well indeed. Almost without exception these days when a band plays a new song at a gig, the crowd goes a little flat as they don’t quite know the material yet, or they’re just here for the old stuff.
No such problem with “Soul Hacker” which, frankly, could have been on Demanufacture. “Dielectric” and “Regenerate” completed the trilogy and the night ended with the oldest song of the set, “Martyr”. Sadly there seemed to be no space for “Linchpin” on the setlist. I guess I’ll have to wait for the Digimortal 20th anniversary tour… in 2021!
I can honestly say that tonight was a fantastic evening and that the band are, allowing for age, every bit as good as they were when I saw them touring on Demanufacture in 1995 – as is the album itself. A great crowd also helped as did the – as ever – excellent security at the Garage. You know you’re in good hands when the guy catching the crowd-surfers is singing the songs. As a personal highlight, having someone come up to me and ask if I was “Mr Purdie from [school I used to work at]” was pretty cool. It’s nice to know that I’m remembered after a few years as well!
Hey, it’s only three years until Obsolete is twenty. Just saying.
Once Human: facebook