Fear Factory - August 14, 2012 - Altar Bar, Pittsburgh, PA
By: David E. Gehlke
Being that Five Finger (Fruit) Death Punch, Killswitch Engage, Trivium and friends were playing across town at the much larger Stage AE, Blistering was sure Fear Factory would be a poor draw on this jam-packed Tuesday night. Since all parties involved share virtually the same audience, it must have been hard for some to pick which show to go to, although the Trespass tour had more to offer and gave concertgoers the opportunity to leave early before FFDP took the stage. (Yes, that's exactly what this scribe would have done.) Regardless, Fear Factory proved they're still a good draw, with the club-sized Altar Bar having a slightly claustrophobic feel to it.
No national support acts for this evening, with a trio of local bands opening the show. Per the usual, the Pittsburgh local scene lived up its nondescript billing...these bands look and sound the part of amateurs, save the part of Beneath the Remains, who have in their ranks an ex-band member of yours truly. It puts one in a sympathetic spot, though, having gone through identically the same pay-to-play trap these bands are enduring. Toss in abbreviated set times, a porous sound job, and a total lack of room for merchandise and it can make any rational musician feel glad they're done playing live in such an unfriendly environment like Pittsburgh. But hey, if it's fun, does anything else really matter?
Thanks to the cancellation of the proposed Shockwave tour with Voivod and Cattle Decapitation, Fear Factory is embarking on a solo headlining tour in support of their new The Industrialist platter. The long-standing pair of Burton C. Bell (vocals) and Dino Cazares (guitars) were flanked by newbies Matt DeVries (bass, ex-Chimaira) and Mike Heller (Malignancy), both of whom seem to hold down their spots fairly well. Especially DeVries, whose background in staccato-land with Chimaira certainly comes in handy during FF's more brazen songs. The set opening title track from said album was merely a precursor to "Shock," which opened up the floor to fellow Obsolete cuts "Edgecrusher" and the always pummeling "Smasher/Devourer."
Bell hasn't lost his touch in terms of his rough and ragged shouts, but his clean vocals left a lot to be desired, most notably on "Descent," a song that brings back memories of FF's short-lived run on MTV. "Powershifter" and "Controlled Demolition" were aired from Mechanize, while a dip into the past with "Martyr" was fun and totally aggro. The band closed things out with a five-song run from Demanufacture, highlighted by the album's namesake, "Self-Bias Resistor" and set closer "Replica."
For all of their missed opportunities, various personnel squabbles, and missteps (Digimortal did get some play time, amazingly), Fear Factory's resolve and depth were the main takeaways from this evening. It's unlikely they'll reach the highs of their 90's era again, but there are few bands of their ilk that are this relevant and more importantly, interesting.
Fear Factory official website