On paper, the pairing of Fear Factory and Devin Townsend seems like an odd combination, but then when you consider their musical paths over the years, as well as their penchant for partner swapping, it comes as less of a surprise. Joined by UK tech metallers TesseracT, this has become one of the more anticipated activities this December only falling short behind the apocalypse and should we survive that, Christmas.
Providing the proverbial appetiser for the possible final metal meal on earth are TesseracT, who are armed with yet another vocalist and all the talent in the world. The band plays a brief 3 song set in their 30 minute stage time, but none of their time is wasted as they play through a tight, well paced set. Again proving why everyone keeps talking about them, and showing that provided they can hold down a solid line up they have all the tools to go very far.
Next up are Fear Factory, who as most people will have recognised are bonafide legends. With a 20 plus year career and a massive collection of anthems in their arsenal tonight really should be a walk in the park for them. Especially after the year they have had, playing Download, winning the Icon Award at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods, as well as releasing their latest album “The Industrialist”. The band should see the year out in style, well not exactly… You see, the band themselves have once again rejigged their line up, adding Mike Heller and Matt Devries on bass and drums respectively to their ranks, which gives the band an extra kick, and tonight the band sounds as tight as they ever have, the problem lies with vocalist Burton. C. Bell who tonight can still deliver all the growls and aggression we have come to expect from him, but he cannot deliver the more melodic moments nowadays. There are moments where I can’t even hear him at all, and others where he falls flat, it’s a shame because Burton‘s voice has always been one of the major selling points of the band.
Vocal problems aside, it’s hard to argue with a band with a back catalogue such as Fear Factory‘s, and when the tunes hit they do hit really hard. The set featured material from all the band’s albums barring “Archetype” and “Transgression” which is a shame as the likes of ‘Slave Labour’ and ‘Archetype’ are sorely missed gems. However, with the likes of ‘Shock’, ‘Edgecrusher’ and ‘Linchpin’ all hitting the mark you can kind of let it go. Newer material from he band’s latest “The Industrialist” sounds as vicious as and precise here as they do on record. The real highlight of the set comes at the end when band takes the time to end their set with all the high points from “Demanufacture” including ‘Self Bias Resistor’, ‘Demanufacture’ and ‘Replica’, ensuring that despite the problems they have had, that their set ends on a high note.
Devin Townsend is up next, and he takes somewhat of a more jovial approach to proceedings. 2012 has been a stellar year for Devin, with the release of “Epicloud”, the live “By a Thread…” boxset, as well The Retinal Circus show back in October, and tonight it seems like he is here to celebrate. Before taking to the stage, the crowd are treated to a series of youtube memes and various other wacky videos. It loosens the crowd up and prepares them for what is to follow. If you’ve never seen Devin Townsend live then there is nothing I can say that will do this justice, he is quite simply one of the most entertaining people in any genre of music around today, whether he is cracking jokes, pulling faces at the audience, or just plain shredding like a boss, there is also something to watch.
Given that this is the last night of a very long 9 week tour, you’d think that quality levels may be in decline as tour fatigue sets in, but that is not the case here, as Devin knows no other gear than full throttle. I am largely unfamiliar with Devin‘s work, despite having heard all five albums in the Devin Townsend Project series. I could not name many songs, but there are songs in tonight’s set that I know and enjoy, including a particularly inspired version of ‘Lucky Animals’ complete with a full crowd participating in jazz hands, which lends to the comedy fun vibe of the song.
Whichever way you slice and dice, Devin Townsend is an extremely talented man who is able to mould together several different styles of music and manages to make them all work within a set that will please even the most critical music fans. Tonight is no exception and judging by all the smiling faces of all the people losing their shit in the crowd, it’s safe to say everyone else agrees.
For a tour that looked weird on paper, tonight has been a rousing success. That proves that sometimes oil and water can mix with successful results. With both Fear Factory and Devin Townsend proving that there is still enough energy and excitement to be found in their respective live shows that they may continue to put on respectful live performances for the foreseeable future.
Photos taken by Sabrina Ramdoyal.