Fear Factory at The Intersection, Grand Rapids

The Intersection, 27 May 2010

Who needs a sauna when you can go to a metal show? Leaving covered in (what, by that time had to be) mostly other people’s sweat only heightened the experience of the Fear Factory show at The Intersection on May 27th.

Kicking off the evening was local openers Page 66. “Brutal” was the word being thrown around all night to describe their set, myself included. Even Burton from Fear Factory said the same thing on stage and actually referred to the band by their name, (an uncommon occurrence for a touring headliner to do). But, that’s about all that was said about them. While the band beat out a solid set, it left something lacking. Something… interesting? Which brings me to the first national act of the night; Thy Will Be Done.

Another solid band that didn’t do much for me. Nothing special or unique going on. Though, the singer does do a great Christopher Walken impression.

Smack-dab in the middle was Silent Civilian fronted by Johnny Santos of Spineshank. Think, something along the lines of progressive hardcore with wonderful melodies. Not a complete departure from Spineshank (why would you even want one?) but, definitely not a rehash. SC songs lack the “industrial” mark of SS, with more of a Hardcore base. The band ripped through their short set comprised mostly of songs from their first album “Rebirth Of The Temple” as well as a few from the recently released “Ghost Stories”. Guitar solos galore; magnificence ensued. Whatever Santos does in the future is sure to be unique, inspiring, and on the cutting edge of what other metal bands wish to be.

Up next were metal veterans Prong, featuring Tony Campos (Static-X, Ministry, Asesino) and Alexei Rodriguez (3 Inches of Blood, Walls of Jericho). The performance was pretty standard throughout most of their set, until the last few songs. While I was standing on the edge of the mosh pit, I “helped” a fellow mosher re-enter the chaos. As he ever so gracefully made his way towards the other side, he was stopped abruptly by another mosher’s unfortunate face. They smashed heads and both fell flat to the floor. The guy who I had pushed wobbled back up as the other lay in the middle of the Intersection floor, unconscious. Prong continued to play their pseudo-hit “Who’s Fist Is This Anyway”, but, nobody was paying attention to them; all eyes were on the floor. After a few moments, a fellow concertgoer decided that CPR needed to be performed. (Whether or not it required to be was under debate for the remainder of the night.) He awoke after a few minutes and was rushed outside where he was taken away in an ambulance. “He’s ok”, exclaimed Prong vocalist Tommy Victor, as they still continued to play without skipping a beat. The band then went into the infamous “Snap Your Fingers Snap Your Neck” and then another to finish out their set.

The headliner of the night was the legendary Fear Factory: the band pretty much responsible for creating the Industrial Metal genre. Returning to the band after two albums and a number of years without him is guitarist and band co-founder Dino Casarez. Out, are members Christian Olde Wolbers (bass) and Raymond Herrera (drums). Along with vocalist Burton C. Bell, these four legally make up “Fear Factory Incorporated”. But, when Burton and Dino made good, repaired their friendship, and decided to start a side project, it ended up being the new FF album instead, (unbeknownst to Christian and Raymond). They brought in Gene Hoglan of Strapping Young Lad and Dethklok (no, Pickles doesn’t actually play) on drums, and Byron Stroud (also of SYL) who has been playing bass for three albums now, ever since the departure of Dino. (For more info, check out their wiki page.) The band that played this night was not quite Fear Factory. Yet, drama aside, it was still great to hear FF songs live and to see Dino playing them again. They didn’t play any songs from the two albums recorded without him, even though the ‘Archetype’ album is a fan favorite.

Without a keyboard player as they usually have, they went with a bit of a stripped-down live show. Even the lighting was simplistic, sticking to mostly white lights and strobes. It gave the whole experience a kind of fresh, new beginnings feeling. If you closed your eyes you would have never known there was ever a lineup change. Gene Hoglan may not quite be 100% up to par with Raymond’s style/abilities but it wasn’t anything to really nitpick. Besides, FF’s latest album Mechanize is possibly their best yet. The entire set was great and even reached back to their debut album with 1992’s “Martyr”. I’ve seen Fear Factory about 5 times, and this show was in the top 2.