Archive for Fear Factory

Wacken Open Air Festival, Wacken, Germany, 5 – 7 August 2010: Day 3

Posted in Gigs, Travel with tags , , , , , on October 31, 2010 by Noise Road

As we stood in line for the shuttle bus back to Itzehoe station, young men brandishing tent poles circled the grounds.  A pointman briefly investigated tents.  If a tent appeared to be abandoned, he signalled to the rest of the posse.  The mob then charged, before wailing on the (hopefully) abandoned tent.  Three days ago, these same lads stood orderly in line for shuttle buses to the site.  It was a metal Lord of the Flies.  If the festival had continued any longer, we would have been worshipping a pig’s head on a stick.

Rather than carrying tents, cookers and mattresses back home, many festival-goers simply walked away with their tents still standing.  In other cases they smashed everything.  20 metres from our tent, punters decided to burn their tent.  They were not alone in this exit strategy.

Hellfest had been quite impact conscious.  Rewards were given for handing in rubbish and recycling.  In general people seemed to be quite respectful of their surroundings.  In contrast, the Wacken we left resembled a dump.

Whilst I can sympathise with the cathartic joy of running around, destroying shyte (and I probably would have joined in when I was 19), the waste and pollution did not sit well.

I’m sure that the organisers go to major lengths to clean up after the crowds leave, but still…  In some cases we are not even talking about outright laziness, we are talking about deliberate attempts to leave the place worse than you found it.  And destroying perfectly good camping equipment?  Who does that?  Who has the money to buy something and abandon/destroy it?  At least take it home and pass it on to someone else.  A tent isn’t that heavy, dude.

Cannibal Corpse

Before the campsite carnage, came the aural assault.  The previous afternoon, we joined 40,000 others for Cannibal Corpse’s set.  I’ve only seen Cannibal Corpse once before and that was in the 500-head capacity room of Fowler’s in Adelaide.  I still haven’t decided whether it’s a good idea or not to gather that many Cannibal fans…

…  but joking aside, Cannibal is a fun band.  I witnessed many more smiles in that crowd than aggression.  George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher sounds like an unholy demon on the mic, but his banter between songs in pure honed schtick.  With song titles that include “F_cked with a Knife”, its hardly a band to take a girl to on your first date, but my girl of four years took the band in the right spirit.  She knew that George was just playing.

The energy in the 40,000 strong crowd, created an immediate storm of dust.  It was at times difficult to breathe.  Maybe those bandanas that double as dust masks aren’t 100% lame after all.

Since our 18th birthdays, Noise Road’s good friend, Stavros, and I have heard death metal bands get lost in muddy mixes in tiny rooms.  So how could it survive being blasted out into cow paddocks?…  Surprisingly well.  Very well, actually.

A decent mix is important in a Cannibal set, as you would lose a lot of the dynamics in a muddle.  Their set is surprisingly varied with a discernible groove throughout.

The title track off Evisceration Plague, chugged along, allowing some of that groove to come through.  Off the same album, Priests of Sodom hammered from the get go.  Even with the hammering there is always time for the guitarists to wail.  Hammer Smashed Face even leaves room for Alex Webster to show his incomparable bass prowess, before the rest of the band joins in to hit hard.

Cannibal are a seasoned, professional unit that live on the road.  So their tightness and polish are not surprising.  But I think it is the strength and variety of their material that separates them from the death metal pack.  They effectively vary tempo and feel, ensuring that their set never sounds like one song played 12 times.

Soulfly

Sepultura were the first metal band that I got into.  And old Sepultura is undeniably great.  But former Sepultura frontman, Max Cavalera, has spent over a decade p!ssing on his legacy.

I saw Soulfly twice early on in their career.  And whilst I wasn’t hanging out for Fred Durst’s rap passage in Bleed, or ultra nu-metal songs, I did, in the main, enjoy those gigs.  Max has always played a high content of the Sepultura classics in his sets.

Night had fallen by the time Max and company hit the stage.  The screens flanking the stage reminded the crowd that there was no circle pits to be entered into.  Someone forgot to hand Max that memo.  I’n not sure there was a song that he didn’t call for a circle pit, or for the crowd to “jump tha f_ck up!”.

So while Max may or may not be a tool, he has undeniable stage presence.  He and the Soulfly unit had the crowd bouncing throughout.

We thrashed through Troops of Doom and screamed along to “Roots!… Bloody Roots!”.  I even allowed myself to enjoy a bit of nu metal as I remembered back to singing Eye for an Eye at the 1999 Big Day Out.  Oh, the youthful indiscretions.

Soulfly still have that nu-metal feel, but the new songs sound a little thrashier.  I still wouldn’t fork out my hard earned for another Soulfly record, but the live set has been worthwhile every time I’ve caught them.

Fear Factory

Fear Factory also played Hellfest.  Following that performance, I thought that it was great to reminisce about the music of my youth, but my time is better spent exploring bands that are pushing boundaries today.  After the Wacken set, there is still room in my life for Fear Factory gigs.

Fear Factory’s set was shorter than the one at Hellfest, and fortunately they cut out the nu metal fat.  It was great.

Like angst-ridden, 16-year olds we yelled along with Burton C. Bell:

“I’ve got…  No more…  God d@mn…  Regrets!

I’ve got…  No more…  God.. d@mn…  Respect!”

We bounced along with Martyr, pausing only to join in the chorus:

“Suffer…   b@st@rd!”

I’ll admit that I still haven’t investigated the new recorded material, but live, it stood up well against the awesome machine-metal of the Demanufacture era songs.  Even if those new songs don’t cut it outside of the live experience, I now believe there is room in my life for more Fear Factory gigs.  I see they’re touring Europe with High on Fire in a month.  I’m on it!

With the inner 16-year old in me once again satisfied, we ventured back for our last sleep in the tent, before waking to the carnage of the morning.  Another night in Hamburg, and we were unfortunately too soon returning to the real world.

I’ve attended a few festivals this season.  Whilst Wacken’s lineup wasn’t as strong as Hellfest, and the scale of the event prevented the communal vibe of a festival like Roadburn, Wacken is Wacken.

For sheer scale and metalness, Wacken can’t be beat.  Like Muslims required to pilgrimage to Mecca once in their lifetime, so every metalhead owes it to himself to attempt to assemble the funds and time, to find enlightenment amongst 75,000 Slayer fans.

Hop to it!…

and thanks for reading…

Hellfest @ Clisson, 18-20 June 2010, Day One: the Evening

Posted in Gigs with tags , , , , , on July 13, 2010 by Noise Road

This is part 3 of Noise Road’s review of Hellfest 2010.  Click here for part 1Click here for part 2.

The evening of day one was one for reformations and veterans.  It was also an evening for the 16-year-old inside this jaded, 30-year-old shell.  Along with Pantera, Sepultura and Fear Factory’s early to mid nineties albums were the first real heavy music that I got into.  It’s fair to say that both Sepultura and Fear Factory aren’t the creative powerhouses that they were back then.  But my inner 16-year-old needed to hear the songs that brought him to the dance.

Sepultura

As the sun was falling, the first big decision of the festival arrived.  Who do I watch next?  Underground metal’s buzz band of the moment, Watain?  Or a past-their-prime Sepultura?

Watain are known for speaking the rhetoric of the black metallers of old.  None eviler.  Read Invisible Oranges interview with the band here.  Watain are also known for playing with real blood splashing out into the audience.  Call it gimmick, atmosphere or ritual – it still would have been a pretty cool experience.

But I chose Seps.  Sepultura were the first genuinely heavy band that I liked.  And despite what everyone else says, I like the first 2 post-Max albums.   I’ve seen them twice in the post-Max period, and they’ve both been great gigs.

Live, Seps still bring it.  They opened with Arise.  16-year-old Moods had to scream “I see the world old! I see the world dead!!!”.  The crushing opening riff of Refuse/Resist quickly followed “Chaos AD!  The tanks on the streets!”

The new thrashy songs don’t seem out of place.  They’re just not memorable like the old classics.  I wouldn’t call them interludes as the boys fully try to give them the sell – Derrick, the frontman, works the auxiliary percussion, Andreas wails like a rockstar in his power stance.

If you don’t buy their new records, fair enough.  I didn’t buy their latest.  But their gigs are still worth checking out.

I had to leave the jungle rhythms of Territory, for the first Godflesh reunion show.

Godflesh

Godflesh’s much anticipated first performance in 7 or 8 years was a series of technical feck ups.  First of all there was 20 minutes of main man, Justin Broadrick, trying to remove the feedback from his mic effects.  The non-believers were increasingly leaving the small Terrorizer Tent.   Then there were issues with his drum electronics, and even a rogue guitar strap held up proceedings for several minutes.  Things were not going smoothly.  And Broadrick looked rattled.

I am by no means a Broadrick super fan.  Last year, before catching his other project, Jesu, at the Primavera festival, I was schooling myself on Jesu.  I enjoyed what I heard on the net – but live, I found his vocals distracting.  He was clearly trying to sing beyond his range (at least on that day, anyway).  As Mrs Eastwood’s little boy always told me “a man’s got to know his limitations”.

So even with the high praise from my favourite bands, Broadrick, was a little tainted in my books.  I’ve tried to get into Godflesh a few times – but it hasn’t happened for me.  And this trouble plagued gig didn’t seem like it was going to be the place for it to happen, either…

Godflesh is a similar live set up to Jesu – Broadrick on guitars, vox and electronics, with a more than capable partner on bass.  But Godflesh was a far different beast to Jesu.

The programmed drums have a cold and stark industrial feel, with plodding bass lines to match.  In contrast, Broadrick wrenches out riffs and noises out of his guitar.  His voice is aggressive, but it feels tortured.  There is human frailty and pain fighting the cold machine behind it.

What I heard, I really enjoyed.  I have been checking out Godflesh in a new light since.  But its such a shame that half of the hour set was lost to technical issues.  If nothing else it has turned me on to the records.

Fear Factory

From the Godflesh brand of industrial to the slicker Fear Factory take on the genre…

I have fond memories of my first awkward steps into metal. Fear Factory’s first two albums, Soul of a New Machine and Demanufacture were a big part of that.  I listened to Demanufacture in its entirety the other week, and I stand by my teenage enthusiasm for it.  The man-vs-machine lyrics match the machine-gun music…  Unfortunately after those first two solid albums, Fear Factory descended into a Nu Metal world of shyte.

So I sat my weary body down in front of the main stage, open-minded despite the better part of a decade of shyte from the Fear Factory machine…

I really dug hearing Demanufacture, Self Bias Resistor and Martyr live again.  They are great songs that translate well on a big stage.  And you can’t fault the performance abilities of the band.  Gun-for-hire, Gene Hoglan, is a monster behind that kit, Dino has that huge guitar sound and Burton C Bell still has vocal chops.  Both 16-year-old and 30-year-old Moods cathartically yelled with Burton “I’ve got no more godd@m regrets!  I’ve got no more goddam respect!”…

Unfortunately they didn’t shy away from their nu metal material.  The album Digimortal was represented with multiple tracks…  This material wasn’t raising my enthusiasm so much.

An interesting break in the music occurred during the set.  A fan boarded the stage and proposed to his girlfriend.  As far as I know, this is at least the third time this has happened on a Fear Factory stage in the last few months…  So is this a gimmick?  If so it’s some out there, performance art gear.  A metal band that has a proposal every show…  Burton C Bell smiled “how beautiful” and then the band immediately followed that act of love with a song that includes the lyrics:

There was no love,

There was no love for me,

There was only hatred…

I am r@pe. I am hate…

Well played, Fear Factory.  Well played.

So while I enjoyed a large part of the set, it was more of a nostalgic enjoyment.  The new material does sound solid, but I don’t think I would go out of my way for Fear Factory 2010.  There are so many bands today doing new, exciting things, that I don’t need to dwell in the past.  But for what it was worth, my inner 16-year-old was pretty d@mn pleased with the evening.

By the end of Fear Factory’s set, I was done.  I was curious about Marduk – but the body failed me.  I successfully passed out in my tent despite Biohazard thundering from the main stage, and my tent being encircled by partying Frenchman until daylight….

Click here for Noise Road’s review of Hellfest Day 2, and for words on performances from the likes of Alice Cooper and Carcass.

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