» Blog Archive Fear Factory, Soilwork Dismantle Gramercy Theater -
Evan Conway Hard Music, News, Reviews, Tours

Fear FactoryI’ll be the first to admit that I never expected much out of Fear Factory when I first listened to them. To my surprise, they became a group of musicians who I respected for their in-your-face albums with the chops to back them up. Nobody could argue that while you knew what you were getting into with Fear Factory, you wouldn’t end up disappointed. With that said, I’ve always been wary of anything associated with industrial metal, in the sense that it can be so computerized and clean, at times, that the thrill of actually seeing an industrial band live would not be able to replicate that.

So that brings me to this show: Fear Factory finally were able to bring their Demanufacture set to North America, and with them they brought Soilwork, Spades and Blades, and Martyrd to New York City for another round following the first shows’ selling out.With the addition of Soilwork, one could argue that the two of them alone could run the tour without so much as a problem. That initially had me skeptical as to what to expect from the opening bands, having no time to look into them thoroughly prior.

That may have been a smart decision, as the smaller bands Fear Factory had opening up the show gave it their all, leaving a strong, lasting impression. Martyrd were the first to take the stage, coming out swinging right away. The stage was cramped for the five-piece, and the lighting wasn’t great, either, but that can’t be held against the band at all; they made due with what they were allowed and did a fine job, as well.

DSC01395I feel like it’s unfair to judge Martyrd on their stage presence, as five people compressed into that tight space is not alien to myself. That being said, Martyrd were giving it their all by being on the forefront of the stage their entire set. Vocalist Aaron Pollard sang to the masses of their home city, all the while guitarists Michael Andreas and Mike Kitsos shredded through their DSC01463respective parts. Martyrd came prepared, and they could not have performed better for a hometown show.

Moving the stage back a bit, Spades and Blades quite literally ran onto the stage following their setting up. A stand at the front of the stage and vocalist Jason Todd yelled out to the crowd just before the band explodes into a chaotic, angry groove. Knowing fully well that the east coast has probably never heard them before, Spades and Blades kept the energy going by meshing hardcore stage personas with metal ferocity.

Instead of each band member taking their respective corner of the stage, the band constantly was moving without so much as stopping, aside from being in between songs. Bassist John Douglas could often be seen spinning his bass around on stage or holding it up triumphantly Not only win between accents. Often, at times, he would even swap spots with Todd at the front of the stage so Todd could interact with different parts of the crowd. It seemed that having only four members not only worked for them as far as their sound was concerned, but overall their entire stage presence was on point and constantly in your face about it, as well. Spades and Blades no doubt have a promising future ahead for them.

DSC01526Soilwork took to the stage right after, and the crowd suddenly piled in once they took to the stage. That’s not say the room wasn’t crowded for the opening bands, but you would have sworn Soilwork were headlining. Opening with the title track from their most recent album The Ride Majestic, Soilwork carried their entire set on a stride of confidence and power, right from the opening moments. Vocalist Bjorn Strid’s empowering demeanor was only rivaled with that of his voice, switching between harsh screams and soaring singing that he is renowned for.

Filling in on guitar was Ronny Gutierrez, and alongside Sylvain Coudret, you’d have sworn he was actually a member of the band. Both guitarists harmonized and stayed locked tight with one another, trading off leads and intricate rhythms, giving way for bassist Markus Wiborn to cut through and throw himself around the stage. Soilwork had made an effort to cover all their bases, ranging from tight music to excellent musicianship, and left a lasting impression that rivaled that of any headliner one might see. Judging by the crowd’s reaction, a headlining tour might not seem so far off for the band.

DSC01522It is also worth noting that since this was the second show at Gramercy Theater, Soilwork changed up their setlist. One could argue that the set on this night was actually stronger, presenting a wider variety of songs, with a strong emphasis on material from The Living Infinite and The Ride Majestic. Personally, comparing the two sets, DSC01580 (2)I found the night’s set to be more enjoyable and with it including heavy hitters like “The Chainheart Machine” and “Petrichor By Sulfur” it left a stronger impression for the band.

As I mentioned prior, I had doubts as Fear Factory was taking to the stage. Industrial metal in any form had never been something I took a liking to, and seeing an industrial band live was never a thought. With nothing to suspect, it is without a doubt that I was blown away by Fear Factory from the moment they took to the stage. Not only was the band’s musicianship identical to that of their recordings, but they were heavier in every sense of the way. Demanufacture is without a doubt a great album, not matter your opinion on the industrial metal genre, but hearing it live is something to behold because of how crushingly brutal it is.

You wouldn’t guess that Burton C. Bell had been doing this for 20+ years, either. Burton’s stage presence is a commanding one, taking every chance he can get to get the crowd to scream with him. More amazing was that following the hour of the set that made up Demanufacture, Burton (and the rest of the band) still had seven songs left in him and did so with tremendous energy.

DSC01597 (2)Props must be given to Mike Heller, who played an entire set flawlessly. Having to live up to drumming monsters like Ray Herara and Gene Hoglan is no easy task, but Heller pulled it off seamlessly. If anything, it’s great that has given two amazing albums to Fear Factory, and the band should feel extremely lucky to have him. But I must express some sympathies for Dino Cazares and Tony Campos for having to keep up with him, they both have my respects for it, in extension for how mechanical their picking was the entire night.

Fear Factory had chosen to celebrate Demanufacture is one of the most triumphant ways possible. This tour not only proved that Fear Factory are still going strong more than 20 years after their inception, but are able to bring amazing bands along with them to compliment their show entirely. Major credit must be given to Martyrd, Spades and Blades, and Soilwork for giving it their 100-percent, proving they are just as formidable as the headliner and worthy of their attention. Any doubts you have towards any of these bands should be easily dispelled upon one song into their set, as they are legitimate acts all around.

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