Fear Factory - LIVE: Koko, London 2012

World Industrialist Tour
December 18 (21:30-23:00)
Capacity 1400

More so than with 2010 comeback album Mechanize Fear Factory have made sure they've toured extensively for latest album The Industrialist, hitting many major markets twice since its release, and playing several major festivals in between. On this particular European trek most cities received a shortened Fear Factory set as they co-headlined with Devin Townsend Project, but in certain places, including London, they booked their own headlining shows.

Townsend has played London extensively over the past two years, including his huge 'Retinal Circus' show, and the four-show run which comprises his new By A Thread DVD, so it's understandable that he didn't want to play there again so soon. This left Fear Factory with the opportunity for their own show, and they chose to end their touring year with it.

Over the course of their career promoters have always struggled to find touring partners or support bands which really match Fear Factory's style, this time bringing in another complete mismatch in excellent modern thrashers Sacred Mother Tongue pre-promoting their forthcoming album and technical metalcore outfit Textures still touring 2011's . Both bands had their fans, but neither really engaged the majority of the crowd. Fear Factory aren't, and have never been, either thrash or metalcore, and as a result it was always going to be an uphill struggle for both bands to win over an audience who weren't really interested, despite both performing well.

Fear Factory themselves have a variable reputation with regards to their live shows. Very much a band who can reportedly be terrific one night and dire the next they divide opinion depending on how many times any particular fan has seen them. When they kicked of this set with the title track from The Industrialist it seemed tonight would be one of the misses as front-man Burton C. Bell warbled and cracked delivering the new track.

However as they launched into Shock from 1998 album Obsolete he proceeded to reverse the long-held assumption that as bands age, particularly singers, they get worse at re-producing their older material but still sound good on new songs, because the new songs were recorded to suit the band's current capabilities in the first place. But for the duration of Fear Factory's 90-minute set Bell defied convention and brilliantly delivered songs from Obsolete, Soul of a New Machine, Demanufacture and Digimortal, while sounding more unsure and uneven on tracks from The Industrialist and Mechanize.

As a tribute to Roadrunner Records, who broke the band with their early albums, instead of a regular encore the band stayed on stage to play five back-to-back tracks from 1995's Demanufacture, which remains their most successful album to date. Some say it would have made more sense to play more songs from debut album Soul of A New Machine which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2012, but closing with tracks from the ever-popular Demanufacture did seem to be a hit on the night with the crowd.

The real advantage Fear Factory have right now is how good they sound playing ultra-heavy versions of their older material at the moment and provided they vary the old tracks they pull out, they should enjoy some very successful touring for the next few years as fans get to hear songs they've never heard live before (indeed in this set they played their cover of Gary Numan's Cars for the first time in 13 years, although Acres of Skin had to make way for it) while the band are still in good form.

“ defied convention ”

Sacred Mother Tongue setlist: The Man You Tried To Hide / The City Is Crying / Two Thousand Eight Hundred / Bleeding Out / Seven / Evolve/Become

Textures setlist: Surreal State of Enlightenment / Sanguine Draws The Oath / Awake / Singularity / Laments of An Icarus

Fear Factory setlist: The Industrialist / Shock / Edgecrusher / Smasher/Devourer / What Will Become / Linchpin / Powershifter / Fear Campaign / Resurrection / Cars / Recharger / Martyr / Self Immolation / Demanufacture / Self Bias Resistor / Pisschrist / Zero Signal / Replica

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2012, Gigs, Industrial,

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