With the tragic news of the murder of one of heavy metal’s greatest six stringers – Pantera / Damageplan‘s Dimebag Darrell – having hit the streets of London earlier in the day, the majority of the bustling Astoria couldn’t care less for the support bill of Fony and Mnemic. The latter are a Swedish quintet who appear to have written just the one song, which they play repeatedly throughout their set, occasionally speeding it up when they feel adventurous – which isn’t often. As chants of Dimebag’s name echo beneath the rafters, there is only one band who will be cheering us up tonight.
When Fear Factory finally arrive on stage, complete with RIP adorning their cabs in gaffa tape, the cheers are deafening. Although there’s nothing they can do to change the tragedy, they are a damn good distraction. Wasting precious little time, they break into Slave Labor 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 moshpit.
As vocalist Burton C Bell starts Cyberwaste a cappella style, the crowd oblige him with a roaring response, belting out the intro in unison. This allows Raymond Herrera 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 of Archetype earlier this year.
Working backwards through Fear Factory’s history, the material gets progressively better, with Edgecrusher providing adequate mosh-tastic entertainment 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, another stunner from Archetype, and as if out to prove just how hot their new album is, the title track has Burton C Bell at his most impressive – his blend of brutal screams and soaring harmonies inspiring many an audience impression, which somewhat dampens the experience to say the least. Despite this, Archetype’s chorus is nothing short of anthemic, and deserves the rapturous response it receives from a tiring crowd.
Drones allows Burton to demonstrate once again why he sends most metal vocalists back to school, before the ever so bizarre cover of Nirvana‘s School even drags in the slackers from the Astoria’s upstairs bar. A quick pit stop before the unanimously expected Replica does its job perfectly, rounding off a night of thoroughly well-presented, industrial-tinged metal. Unfortunately, this means that we are left to wander off home, once again facing the nagging reality that, despite the first-class two-hour distraction, Dimebag’s gone, and that really flipping sucks.