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Fear Factory Live in Hollywood

By Charlie Steffens aka Gnarly Charlie, Writer/Photographer
Wednesday, September 8, 2004 @ 9:59 AM


Fear Factory Live at the House

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Fear Factory rolled their Machine into Hollywood last Saturday night and blew the lid off the House of Blues. The band played a show that burned, bludgeoned, and bruised from start to finish.

With a couple switches in their personnel (Christian Olde Wolbers took guitar duties while Strapping Young Lad's bassist, Byron Stroud, came on board to fill Christian's former slot), and the release of Archetype, the soul of this machine has improved. This was evident after this kick ass live performance.

The opener was “Slave Labor” from Archetype. Burton Bell flew up to the microphone and sang his ass off with his trademark switch from a growling demonic voice to singing in a melodic, rock baritone. He seemed completely at ease in his intensity, having fun feeding off the audience's energy, while singing about a rather dark subject matter. “Cyberwaste,” another bonecrusher followed, with its defiant chant - “Nothing you say matters to us! Fuck You!” There ya go, Tipper.

Raymond Herrera's drumming is indescribable, really. He was hard to see behind the case, yet his presence was heard like rhythmic shellfire. His technical prowess has been noted by the luminaries in the musician mags and by fellow drummers, accomplished and aspiring alike. Raymond played this show with his usual double bass wizardry. The fusion between Byron and Ray was exceptional -- Great timekeepers. These guys lay down a bottom like some kind of hellish metronome. Byron is fun to watch. Every time he rocked forward while working the bass chops his hair flopped over his face like Cousin It.

Christian Olde Wolbers was slaying it all night long with crunchy, clean, power chords. A very visible, aggressive guitar player. Though he may seldom move up the neck and rip sizzling leads, his style of playing lends itself perfectly to the Fear Factory machine, which could be bogged down with any lightning fast, shredder, whammy bar stuff. Every one in this band's line up is in his right place. Props to the live keyboards, too.

By the time they went into “Edgecrusher,” there was so much crowd surfing going on it was like being out in the water at Malibu's 1st Point on a summer day, but hotter than a whore in church. Molten metal was flying.

The list of songs played focused on FF's best work from their catalog, yet a lot of the selections were from Archetype. Still, the balance between old and new songs that they played were more than satisfactory with “Demanufacture” and “Pisschrist” being on the set along with “Scumgrief” -- just to mention a few of the killers they included.

This brings me to the question: Do you ever wonder (Andy Rooney, rock critic) when you go to hear a band that you like play live if you're going to have to endure their new material that you can’t stand? Many of us exclaimed in this situation: “Oh no! Not that undeserving chart buster that sounds like music to shit to.” During those low moments is usually the perfect time to go get that beer or ... go do a two, for that matter. This was not the case with Fear Factory's performance, and I would imagine any place they go to play their set list would be well received. Archetype is a superb recording so I, as most, stayed thirsty and made no trips to the bathroom!

More stuff from Archetype followed, including its title track, where Christian really showcased his guitar talent, Burton sang with depth and levity, and the place caught fire. A very high point of the night was when Troy from Mastodon came out to sing “School,” a Nirvana song that's on Archetype. They played it so loose, loud, and reckless -- it put our collective dick in the dirt while paying homage to the late Kurt Cobain. Troy shared vox with Burton and really nailed it. It was too bad I missed Mastodon's show prior to FF's.

After “Resurrection,” they did another one from their latest called “Human Shields.” Burton sings this one beautifully on the studio track, and the way he did it live was no exception. Hard to believe that in minutes he would go into his gravelly, low octave, madman scream during the beginning of “Scapegoat,” which was skull cracking and heavenly (can’t explain). “Replica” was the last number, an excellent close to a gig that will be remembered by many who saw and heard it. A phenomenal show.

And when the house lights went on so did the house music with Diana Ross and The Supremes' “You Can't Hurry Love.” Talk about some sonic contrast ... lovely, though.

Many thanks to Walls of Jericho, Sworn Enemy, and Mastodon for their performances and support.

SET LIST:
Slave Labor
Cyberwaste
Shock
Edgecrusher
Demanufacture
Zero Signal
Pisschrist
Martyr
Scumgrief
Archetype
Drones
School
Resurrection
Human Shields
Scapegoat
Replica













(Photos © Charlie Steffens)


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