With the tragic news of the murder of one of heavy metal’sgreatest six stringers – Pantera / Damageplan‘s Dimebag Darrell – having hit the streets of London earlier in the day, the majority of the bustlingAstoria couldn’t care less for the support bill of Fony and Mnemic.
The latter are a Swedish quintet who appear to havewritten just the one song, which they play repeatedlythroughout their set, occasionally speeding it up whenthey feel adventurous – which isn’t often. As chants ofDimebag’s name echo beneath the rafters, there is onlyone band who will be cheering us up tonight.
When Fear Factory finally arrive on stage, completewith RIP adorning their cabs in gaffa tape, the cheersare deafening. Although there’s nothing they can do tochange the tragedy, they are a damn good distraction.
Wasting precious little time, they break into SlaveLabor and the place kicks off nicely – the addition of a splash of grief to the usual cocktail of pent-up frustration, anger and testosterone certainly makes for a pretty inviting mosh-pit.
As vocalist Burton C Bell starts Cyberwaste a cappellastyle, the crowd oblige him with a roaring response,belting out the intro in unison. This allows RaymondHerrera to take centre stage with his bionic drum-destroying capabilities. Meanwhile, bassist Byron Stroud and guitarist Christian Olde Wolbers follow suit and drop into the crushing riff that secured FearFactory their return to form with the release ofArchetype earlier this year.
Working backwards through Fear Factory’s history, the material gets progressivelybetter, with Edgecrusher providing adequate mosh-tasticentertainment and Self Bias Resistor causing a rush of”old skool” nutters from the back that sends any nu-metal stragglers scrambling for the stairs.
Martyr is followed by Bite The Hand, anotherstunner from Archetype, and as if outto prove just how hot their new album is, the titletrack has Burton C Bell athis most impressive – his blend of brutal screams andsoaring harmonies inspiring many an audienceimpression, which somewhat dampens the experience tosay the least. Despite this, Archetype’s chorusis nothing short of anthemic, and deserves therapturous response it receives from a tiring crowd.
Drones allows Burton to demonstrate once again whyhe sends most metal vocalists back to school, beforethe ever so bizarre cover of Nirvana‘s Schooleven drags in the slackers from the Astoria’s upstairs bar.
A quick pit stop before the unanimously expected Replicadoes its job perfectly, rounding off a night ofthoroughly well-presented, industrial-tinged metal. Unfortunately, this means that we are left to wander off home, once againfacing the nagging reality that, despite the first-class two-hour distraction, Dimebag’s gone, and thatreally flipping sucks.