Friday 11th of December 2015 saw the mighty Fear Factory give a rarer-than-gnats-piss Belfast performance, this being their first time here in five years and only the third time they’ve appeared in Northern Ireland, and with the promise of the classic Demanufacture being played in full there was a more than a healthy turn out of metal fans both old and young, braving the winter chill.
Due to an early start, we missed Dublin mob Dead Label but arrived in the nick of time for Once Human , the new band from ex-Machine Head man Logan Mader who has surrounded himself with far younger musicians including vocalist Lauren Hart. Mader is understandably this bands main draw but to be fair to him he stayed stage right, headbanging away and allowed his band mates to interact with the crowd. Frontwoman Lauren Hart seems to want to transform into Angela Gossow so much that she has copied her mannerisms and vocal style completely but comes off as a second rate version. Finishing with a terrible version of Machine Head’s all time classic “Davidian” just highlights their weaknesses.
Just like the band, we’ll get straight to the point. Taking the stage to a short introduction Fear Factory  launched straight into “Demanufacture” and proceeded to tear through the album; track by pummelling track. The sheet metal riffing of Dino Cazares was enough to bulldoze through walls, while the relentless double bass attack of Mike Heller rolled over the expectant horde that had gathered to worship their heroes. It wasn’t until the arrival of “Replica” that vocalist Burton C Bell addressed the crowd – who in return upped the moshing action to fever pitch – for a track that is as devastatingly effective now as it was when it took the world by storm in 1995. It was a pleasure to hear the likes of “Bodyhammer” and a bruising “Pisschrist” again before “A Therapy For Pain” brought the main part of the set to a close. Overall, a devastating performance of an album 20 years old but still way ahead of the game.
Onto the encore. After a few minutes the band returned and launched straight into a devastating one-two from 1998’s Obsolete, with “Shock” and the groove heavy “Edgecrusher” collectively causing Belfast to lose its shit! Three songs from new album Genexus then received an airing before a remorseless “Martyr” brought things to a suitably apocalyptic climax.
The big concern going into this gig was how Burton C Bell’s clean vocals would hold up and while there were a few wobbles – especially on the likes of “Dog Day Sunrise” and the aforementioned “A Therapy For Pain” – overall he acquitted himself admirably. A great performance from a great band and hopefully they won’t leave it so long until they come back again.