Chris Loomis

Fear Factory @ The Yost Theater – 5/23/2012

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The Yost Theater in Santa Ana, CA is quickly becoming the new heavy metal venue of choice in Southern California. In recent days Sevendust, Children of Bodom, Death Angel and Sepultura among others have played that stage and on Wednesday night May 23, heavy metal heavyweights Fear Factory and Shadows Fall were in town. Along with The Browning, Legacy of Disorder, The Devastated and locals Thrown into Exile, Fear Factory played the last night of their “Noise in the Machine” tour before flying off to Europe later that night to play a string of summer festival dates through the end of June before returning to tour North America once again in July.

Shadows Fall is out supporting their recent release and seventh studio album “Fire from the Sky”. Vocalist Brian Fair, guitarists Joathan Donais and Matt Bachand, drummer Jason Bittner and fill in bass player Ed Lanouette (Dark Day Sunday – Ed is filling in for Paul Romanko who is on family leave from this tour) hit the stage with all cylinders cranking as they tore through the opening song Thoughts Without Words. Shadows Fall puts every ounce of energy into their live performance. This being the last night of the tour Brian invited everyone to join in the party and make it a night to remember. Brian’s wailing vocals along with his flailing five foot dreadlocks, Jonathan’s shrieking guitar solos, Matt’s ferocious backing vocals and Jason’s laser fast drum beats make for a memorable live experience (and Ed on bass filled the roll spot-on).

Shadows Fall played three songs off their new album – Divide and Conquer, Fire from the Sky and The Unknown – all great songs and fit into the live set very well. The Yost Theater lets the onstage artists get right up close to the fans with no stage barrier so Brian took advantage of that and was right in the face of the enthusiastic fans often throughout the set. I can’t say enough about the musical talent in this band but the highlight for sure was the amazing drum skills of Jason Bittner pounding effortlessly and kicking those double bass drums.

The core of Fear Factory, Burton C. Bell and Dino Cazares are the masterminds behind their unique sound – is it Industrial Metal, Progressive Metal, Death Metal, Heavy Metal . . . the answer is Yes it is a combination of all and what a face melting experience it is to witness their live show. This tour also is the live debut of the new rhythm section, bassist Matt DeVries (formerly of Chimaira and briefly with Six Feet Under) and drummer Mike Heller from Malignancy and System Divide. The show opened with the crushing song Shock off their 1998 masterpiece “Obsolete” and then they went right into Edgecrusher off that same album – what a way to open the show! Burton sounded amazing on vocals alternating between the screams and growls mixed in with the clean vocals that so define a Fear Factory song. Heavy Metal soldier Dino Cazares (who is also a member of Divine Heresy and Asesino) as usual is a machine on his seven string guitar. Matt Devries who was a guitarist with Chimaira has moved over to the bass in Fear Factory. Matt is a welcome addition to the live show as he is constantly moving around and whipping his hair. Matt and Dino would switch sides of the stage every couple of songs as Burton would occupy center stage with his powerful vocals.

Fear Factory has always been known for its machine gun like drumming and new drummer Mike Heller more than filled the role left by original drummer Raymond Herrera and most recently Gene Hoglan. Mike’s live performance was very impressive as he nailed all the songs and left little question in the minds of Fear Factory fans as to whether or not he was the right drummer for the job!

The setlist was a monster and it was very interesting the order of how they played the songs. They started the show with consecutive songs from “Obsolete”, then songs from “Digimortal”, then songs from “Mechanize”, threw in the new song Recharger off the new album “The Industrialist” (which drops on June 5), then an old classic Martyr off of “Soul of a New Machine” then closed the show with four killer tunes off of “Demanufacture” – Demanufacture, Self Bias Resistor, Zero Signal and Replica . . . WOW!!! This was without a doubt the best I have seen Fear Factory in years!!

The one-two punch of Shadows Fall and Fear Factory made for a memorable night of in your face, heavy music. These are two bands that must be seen live to fully appreciate their music. With Shadows Fall having just released a new album and Fear Factory having their new disc out on June 5, both of these bands are sure to have a few more touring cycles in the US to support their new music. Whether you are a longtime fan or a new fan the live experience of Shadows Fall and Fear Factory is a must see – keep your eyes peeled for when they hit your town next!

Shadows Fall Setlist:

  1. Thoughts Without Words
  2. Still I Rise
  3. Divide and Conquer
  4. Stepping Outside the Circle
  5. The Power of I and I
  6. Fire From the Sky
  7. King of Nothing
  8. What Drives the Weak
  9. The Unknown
  10. The Light That Blinds

Fear Factory Setlist:

  1. Shock
  2. Edgecrusher
  3. Smasher/Devourer
  4. Acres of Skin
  5. Linchpin
  6. Mechanize
  7. Powershifter
  8. Fear Campaign
  9. Christploitation
  10. Recharger
  11. Martyr
  12. Demanufacture
  13. Self Bias Resistor
  14. Zero Signal
  15. Replica

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