FEAR FACTORY / SOILWORK / SPADES AND BLADES / NO CONVICTION
Date: 19th April, 2016
Venue: Concord Music Hall
Ticket: $20 (€18)
I cannot think a specific reason for having so much time since the last time I had seen SOILWORK onstage. I mean, we are talking about at least a decade, and considering their consistent discography made me think that I had been missing a lot. So yes, the moment this touring packaged had been announced, I knew I had to redeem myself. Plus, the icing on the cake was the 20th anniversary celebration of FEAR FACTORY’s second album, “Demanufacture”. Ok, this era of FEAR FACTORY is not exactly what I have in mind as being close to Metal, but still, getting the ‘playing the entire album live’ treatment is always interesting and can really go both ways; be blunt with a ‘let’s get over with’ attitude or ‘be super great’, but let’s take first things first...
Upon entering the pretty filled with mostly young faces Concord Music Hall , SPADES AND BLADES were tearing it up with the last song of their setlist. This type of vein-popping Metalcore is great for live shows but tells me nothing when played from the record. Sure, this might be my age talking but no matter what, everyone seemed to be enjoying this set to the fullest with a huge mosh-pit in the center.
Just by looking at the band names on the billing, SOILWORK felt like the odd one out, and I was extremely curious to see how they are doing here in the States. I didn’t wait for long to get an answer because the moment the Swedes showed up with “The Ride Majestic”, the young audience responded with quite a high energy level. The band’s performance and high-mood attitude helped a lot and really, SOILWORK skipped any warming up period and got into the headbanging / moving around business right away. The Swedish-born melodic Death Metal with the massive grooves and the catchy double guitar harmonies becomes ten-times better when the band puts some work (and sweat) on the performance. “Nerve” with the clean vs growl vocals got some singing-along response but without lacking the energy of the setlist opener. The only downside of the show was not band-related and I’m sure it went unnoticed; the lights were kind of flat carrying one color per song taking away some of the onstage energy because there was nothing to highlight the action (and was a pain to take good photos).
Like I said, no one seem to give a damn about the lights and during “The Chainheart Machine”, a nice mosh-pit took over the center of the arena under Björn “Speed” Strid’s command. Yeah, it does not take much talking to let an already charged audience know that it’s time to mosh following the higher tempos of this song.
“Good evening, Chicago. Four months ago, we were in Joliet; is it still Chicago?” Speed asked and got a massive ‘booo’ as an answer (obviously for the Joliet reference; I have no idea why). “Are you ready for FEAR FACTORY?” he continued before concluding: “but first it’s time for some Swedish Metal” which introduced “This Momentary Bliss” and we were back to action (the clean vocals came out awesome). I have no idea if this was due to my proximity to the stage but I think the keyboards were barely audible, so I missed the melody they bring in SOILWORK songs like this one. Speed spent the minimum time talking, so the focus was on the music and keeping the quickly gathered momentum going. “Tongue” saw more mosh-pitting while the clean guitar intro of “Let This River Flow” came right on time to give the hardworking fans a breather before finishing the show the same way it started; yeah, “Late For The Kill, Early For The Slaughter” and “Stabbing The Drama” were enough to answer the question I had before SOILWORK’s set. Indeed, the band has quite a following in the US and if they continue working their arses off this will grow even more. By the way, the clean vocals of the setlist closer came out awesome! I am sure I will be seeing more of the Swedes and, in fact, if I heard right, the band will return to the States sometime during this Fall. So keep your eyes peeled and your ears open.
01. “The Ride Majestic”
03. “The Chainheart Machine”
04. “The Crestfallen”
05. “This Momentary Bliss”
06. “The Living Infinite I”
07. “Whirl Of Pain”
09. “Let This River Flow”
10. “Late For The Kill, Early For The Slaughter”
11. “Stabbing The Drama”
(click to enlarge)
Like I said, playing an entire album takes away the excitement of what song is next but on the other hand, if it works, it gets a nice flow from both the audience and the fans. The excitement was evident, especially the moment the lights went out and the intro of the album’s title track set the right mood for some Industrial Metal. “Fuck yeah, Chicago, this is “Demanufacture”” were pretty much the words Burton chose to commence the celebration. The sound was loud but absolutely clear, so we got a full taste of Dino Cazares’ guitar groove and Tony Campos’ killer bass-lines. Sure, this type of Metal has no fancy guitar leads (I think there are no solos in this album) and with the focus on the groove and the electronic sounds, it makes a huge impact in terms of building an atmosphere. Yeah, “Self Bias Resistor” came out as a steamroller and proved what I always knew; Industrial Metal may not be the best music to listen to at the comfort of your house but it is awesome when performed live with this kind of sound and in front of an audience like this one. You see, the energy flows between the band and the crowd, and gets amplified in every cycle, so it was not a shocking surprise to see the mosh-pit going right away while there some bodies already flying. The groove from “Replica” sounded great for some headbanging and, combined with the strobe lights, created a killer atmosphere which was impossible to resist, even if this type of Metal was not one's thing. Yeah, it was fun all the way and although this gave the photographers a hard time getting some pics, seeing the three bands members getting as close as possible to the front rows made the audience/band distinction kind of fuzzy with everyone getting involved.
After the monotonous in the Industrial way “New Breed”, it was time for a short break with the ‘slower’ “Dog Day Sunrise” (yeah, this cover is one of the cases where the cover sounds awesome-r than the original version) but it was soon back to high-adrenaline stuff with “Body Hammer”. Oh my, those electronic samples did come loud and kind of overwhelming being the definition of Industrial Metal, so again headbanging was the only way to get through this... Aside from the constant crowd-surfing, “Pisschrist” got some serious singing-along, especially the way the crowd kept singing after the song had ended; really, it seemed like this was rehearsed and gave me the chills. In other words, it was awesome! Pretty much this was the way the first part of the set ended on a high note, seeing the band leaving the stage that was now painted blue. This may be the best entire-album performance I have ever been and I think the audience played a huge role on this.
It was getting late alright but I didn’t see many leaving the venue because there was more. After the end of the taped samples it was time for having some relaxing time with “What Will Become?”. Considering the audience’s participation in the show, I have to choose “Archetype” as the star of the encore and especially the way it ended with the massive singing-along during the “open your eyes” part - absolutely fantastic. “Good times so far, we played all this old stuff. Thank you for your support – now it’s time for a couple of new tracks” said Burton before introducing a couple of songs from the latest FEAR FACTORY album that pretty much faced the same excitement from the still-going strong Chicago audience, so yes, “Soul Hacker” and “Regenerate” came out great. For “Edgecrusher” and “Martyr”, SPADES AND BLADES joined FEAR FACTORY onstage and I think depleted the last drop of energy everyone had in their tanks, dropping the curtain on the highest of notes. Before the setlist closer, Burton thanked once more everyone for joining in the celebrations for “Demanufacture” and then explained why this album has some roots in Chicago. Apparently, the band started recording the album in a studio in Chicago but for whatever the reason, did not go well. Still, there is a history connection that gave an extra special touch in the already killer show. Even if Industrial Metal is not your main cup of tea but you have the opportunity to see the show, then I’d say go ahead; it’s guaranteed to have tons of fun.
FEAR FACTORY setlist:
02. “Self Bias Resistor”
03. “Zero Signal”
05. “New Breed”
06. “Dog Day Sunrise” (HEAD OF DAVID cover)
07. “Body Hammer”
09. “H-K (Hunter-Killer)”
11. “A Therapy For Pain”
12. “What Will Become?”
14. “Soul Hacker”
(click to enlarge)