Fear Factory @ Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton, 17th February 2010


Having heard from a friend of mine that Fear Factory had just released a new album, ‘Mechanize’, my interest was piqued. When I also found out that original guitarist Dino Cazares had rejoined the band I decided I really couldn’t miss this one!

I first got into Fear Factory around 1997 as a young teenager. I was bought their remix album ‘Remanufacture’. After that I was hooked and quickly snapped up the album on which it was based, 1995’s classic ‘Demanufacture’. I bought 1998’s ‘Obsolete’ as soon as it came out and still rate it in my top ten heavy metal albums for its mix of crushing power and melody and the epic concept behind it. Like many fans I was disappointed by Fear Factory’s relative commercial failure. I felt that on the strength of their material they deserved to eclipse peers such as Korn in terms of sales. For whatever reason this didn’t happen and FF remained a big cult band. The album ‘Digimortal’ came out in 2001 and while it was an adequate record it marked the beginning of a creative decline for FF that I believe they haven’t yet shaken off. Dino Cazares left the band. Each subsequent album was hailed as a return to form and yet each one turned out to be competent but lacking that spark of creative genius. Is Dino the much needed lethal groove injection that will return Fear Factory to peak form?


There is a buzz about the album and the reunion of the Bell/Cazares partnership and the gig is very well attended. The Wulfrun is pretty packed. The houselights go down and AC/DC’s ‘If You Want Blood’ blasts through the PA. The Fear Factory logo is illuminated and a massive cheer goes up. The band makes everyone wait a little longer while an eerie spoken word passage intones a warning of apocalyptic redemption. Then the band strides on. A couple of new tracks from ‘Mechanize’ begin the show. Whilst I have only really heard the single ‘Powershifter’ and had a cursory listen to a couple of other tracks, the ‘Mechanize’ stuff sounds a lot heavier than the ‘Archetype’ or ‘Transgression’ albums from 2004 and 2005. It also displays a touch more of an industrial edge than I’ve heard from Fear Factory in a while. If I was pushed to describe it in an easy way I would say it was a mix of two parts ‘Demanufacture’ to one part ‘Obsolete’.

The chemistry between the band is great and a lot more positive looking than when I last saw them live (in Manchester in 2005). Some of this is probably due to Dino’s return. The man has a smile as wide as a Mexican cat and is wildly popular with the fans. Spontaneous chants of “Dino!” pop up around the audience from time to time. Fear Factory are, of course, a touring machine and have notched up hundreds of live shows since their inception. In doing so they have honed their art to a mechanical perfection. Using industrial and mechanical similes with Fear Factory is a cliche but there is a valid point to my mentioning this in that, when FF have an off night in the live arena or when they don’t hit the mark on record they can sound tired and mechanical. Conversely when they get it right they can summon up what I call ‘the soul within the machine’; cold and precise yes, but also a curiously organic and emotional beast which comes from the peculiar way that these four musicians relate to each other. You can hear it tonight in the grand melancholy of ‘Resurrection’, or in promising new track ‘Christsploitation’.


Fear Factory push on with ‘Shock’, ‘Edgecrusher’ and ‘Smasher, Devourer’ from ‘Obsolete’. Each one hits the mark with crushing force. They then play ‘Powershifter’ which gets a healthy cheer. To my ears this track is a little generic with some transparently token political lyrics ‘You wanted war, you got war, more than you bargained for’. However I’m sure the band would deny that these words are overtly political. Nevertheless its a good riff and nicely showcases new drummer Gene ‘The Atomic Clock’ Hoglan’s prowess. It’s too early to tell what the musical impact of his and Dino’s arrival will be, and if ‘Mechanize’ will contain some much needed modern Fear Factory classics, but the signs are promising.

The band exits the stage in a ‘we’re obviously going to return for an encore’ manner that doesn’t leave time for the crowd to get fired up enough to start stomping and chanting. It’s a small criticism though, as when they return they play nothing but ‘Demanufacture’ material, powering through ‘Demanufacture’, ‘Self Bias Resistor’ (introduced as “a rebel song”), ‘Zero Signal’ and ‘Body Hammer’, finishing with ‘Replica’. They leave the crowd both reeling and warmly satisfied. That’s no surprise. We know Fear Factory have a rabid core fan base. The real challenge is for Fear Factory to rejuvenate itself at this point in its near 20 year career, inject a new dose of bile into the machine and reach out to a new generation of fans.

Review Adam Moffatt
Photos Andy Whitehouse

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