Fear Factory

Live at The Fonda Theatre

Los Angeles, CA

May 7th, 2016

Review and photos by Travis Baumann

Industrial Metal pioneers, Fear Factory celebrate the 20th anniversary of their seminal album "Demanufacture" with a special tour devoting a majority of the set list to the fan favorite release.

This is the final night of the tour and the venue was filled with an audience ready for their home town heros to play every track from the "Demanufacture" album along with, hopefully, a number of new songs and other favorites from their storied history.

An older guy came out to the microphone and introduced himself as Dennis Haskins. He then said that we may know him better as Mr. Belding from Saved By The Bell.  He said that Fear Factory were friends of his, and he was a big fan of theirs. "Here is Fear Factory!"

The band took the stage with cheers from the audience. Band founders, Burton C. Bell and Dino Cazares, were accompanied by Mike Heller on drums and Tony Campos on bass.

Dino's signature guitar sound hit like a futuristic machine gun as the first staccato blasts flew from the speakers. Atmospheric keyboards and soundscapes laid an aural backdrop behind the blazing drums and strings as the band started off with the title track "Demanufacture".

This album struck a new chord in both their sound and the metal world at large twenty years ago. Fear Factory had combined forces with the uber talented Rhys Fulber, known for his contributions to the Canadian Industrial band Frontline Assembly. Together they built a harsh but resonant sound of a cybernetically enhanced battleground.

Burton's vocals range from an angry snarled delivery to clean melodic pieces that are uplifting and crawl deep into your subconscious to where you are singing them days later. A storyteller at heart, his lyrics span from sci-fi tales of distant futures to very real calamities in this lifetime.

They continued with "Self Bias Resistor" and lead directly into "Zero Signal" in the same order they are in on the original release. Dino smiled a lot at the enthusiastic crowd but all the other musicians looked very intense as they played and sang.

"Replica" was up next and is one of my favorite songs off of this album. Gauging from the rest of the audience's reaction, I am not alone. The entire crowd chanted back the verse, "I don't want to live that way!"

Continuing through the set in relentless fashion, they hit "New Breed" and followed up with "Dog Day Sunrise", which is a cover of a song by Head of David. The way Burton performed it brings to mind Jim Morrison meets early Danzig meets Revolting Cocks (in other words it kicked ass).

Already steamrollering through over half of the album, they just kept going; no talk, no banter... song after song of industrial pulverization. Up next was "Body Hammer" and it hit with heavy impact, keeping the circle pit in cyclone mode.

"Flashpoint" maintained the momentum and without a respite, they came upon another resounding favorite out of a set of top notch cuts. "H-K (Hunter Killer)" stirs up thoughts of Terminator, Dune, and other sci-fi awesomeness. This was a stand out track for me when I first heard it two decades prior and it still is.

They concluded the main set with the last two tracks off of "Demanufacture", "Pisschrist" and "A Therapy For Pain". We had a few moments to breath as orchestrated electronics settled and then came to a close.

The Saved By The Bell guy came back up and asked if we wanted more. The resounding shout made him smile and without further ado he yelled, "Fear Factory!"

The band returned to the stage and for the first time Burton addressed the crowd. He told a story of how he and Dino met for the first time in 1990 just a block away from where we stood now.

They started the encore with "Shock" from their 1998 album "Obsolete". Lucky for us, we were also going to get a couple of songs from their latest offering, "Genexus". They played the awesome "Soul Hacker" as well as the equally moving "Regenerate".

As the night drew long, we were aware that we were steadily moving towards the finale of the evening. Up next we got a throw back to their debut album with "Martyr" hailing from 1992's "Soul of a New Machine".

We got one final track and it is definitely one of my all time favorite Fear Factory pieces so I was really stoked to end the night with it. "Edgecrusher" was originally released on "Obsolete" but maintains its energy and relevance many years later.

It was a great show to say the least. I love Fear Factory and loved this nostalgia trip back two decades. They have always performed some of these hits through out the years but it was cool to see it presented as such.  

I am equally happy that we got a nice encore with a number of other pieces as well, especially the new stuff. "Genexus" is a great album that keeps the signature elements of Fear Factory intact after all these years but also provides a fresh story and structure to enjoy them.

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