Slavebreed, Karma Violens
Gagarin Club, Athens, Greece
It was the first time in nearly two decades of life in the history of industrial metal pioneers Fear Factory to visit Greece and people had a growing urge all these years to see this band live. Some of them found large interest especially with the entering of legendary drummer Gene Hoglan in the last album ”Mechanize” and some others were even happier that original guitarist Dino Cazares is finally back in the band. With the addition of Byron Stroud on bass and the charismatic vocalist Burton C. Bell who gave an amazing performance, this quartet destroyed the whole place with great ease.
But let’s take things from the beginning, where we had two support groups playing each for 20 minutes, while not referred on the live poster. First were Karma Violens, a great groovy band with lots of energy on the scene. They played three songs and a great medley of covers from legendary groups. Amongst others, ”Freezing Moon” of Mayhem, ”Dead Skin Mask” of Slayer, ”Redneck” of Lamb Of God, ”Inner Self” of Sepultura and ”Domination” of Pantera were played and they gained the honest applause of the crowd for their passionate presence.
After Karma Violens it was Slavebreed who gave a maniac performance. Their frenzied music caught the crowd by great surprise, except the ones who had already seen them live and knew what to wait. The singer managed to get rid of all his clothes except his underwear, creating a funny atmosphere to the whole presence (he said during the show ”Hello, we are Gaybreed”) but in terms of growling, this guy spills his guts out. Colossal drummer, absolute energetic insanity and 14 songs in 20 minutes were the ideal preparation for the machines of hate to enter the stage.
The wait was over when in half past ten Fear Factory began to unleash atomic bombs with the title track of their newest album ”Mechanize” as initiation to the nightmare that followed. A familiar sound was heard after that which was the intro to ”Shock”, entering the ”Obsolete” era of the band, with the crowd starting getting hot and with ”Edgecrusher” making matters worse for all of us, where groove takes over and the whole Gagarin Club jumps up and down, shortly before ”Smasher/Devourer” marks one of the best moments of the concert, with Gene Hoglan breaking one tom and Cazares showing it with pride to the people saying ”This is just the fourth song and look what he’s done”.
After a short break in order the problem to be solved, ”Industrial Discipline” from the new album was tearing the speakers and I could see in joy that many people were familiar with the new material and they seemed to like it a lot. Next was the ”Digimortal” section with ”Acres Of Skin” still proving its worth through the test of time, with its bombastic beginning and ”Linchpin” still capable to make a whole club turn upside down with its trademark riff. Then it was time for two more new tracks, ”Powershifter” which was the first one we all heard before the new album was released and ”Fear Campaign” whose clip we all adored. Both tracks are played twice better live and generally the new material sounds extremely fresh.
”Martyr” from the debut album ”Soul Of A New Machine” was one of the most awaited tracks, its early death metal approach found many correspondents and a large moshpit was created in the middle of the club, continuing on ”Christploitation” which is the most brutal of the new tracks and with Bell turning red from fury, proving that he is a great frontman in a night where he was in perfect shape, alongside the rest of the band. Things eased a lot with ”Ressurection” from ”Obsolete” again and ”Final Exit” from the new album setting the calm before the storm which was the landmark of this gig.
For it was the time for the ”Demanufacture” part of the set, with the title track from their legendary and best album sounding so powerful with Hoglan on drums, the crowd is unleashed, the band is uncontrollable and ”Self Bias Resistor” comes to finish off what’s left of our energy. It is really emotional to witness live songs you grew up with, you have sung a million in the past and you were praying to live such moments with. ”Zero Signal” is easily the most mature piece of music they have ever written, its structure is for seminar and its heaviness makes ears bleed and speakers cry.
But the end was even better with the most furious moment being ”H-K (Hunter-Killer)” where the machine is more alive than ever as the lyrics say and the place nearly destroyed by this relentless attack. After presenting the members and thanking us for coming, Bell does what we all expect and that was the end of the night: ”Huh” and ”Replica” was the last nail in the coffin of what is false and what is trendy that night. In terms of playing, the band is in an excellent momentum and their new record seems to get along great to the fans. Some fans were concerned and thought what could have happened if Raymond Herrera and Christian Olde Wolbers were there that night.
Apart from thoughts and different opinions, noone can deny that this was one of the better concerts of all times in our country, with the combination of in shape band and passionate crowd being the wild card in a night with gallons of sweat. One final statement only: I feel really honoured to have talked and met the mighty Gene Hoglan after the show, I can’t help but writing this, as he is the living proof of how a musician should be. He didn’t deny signing on everybody, taking photos with all people he met and smiling all the time, despite his lack of time and pressure to leave the place. Hail to the great machinery, which we all hope will return soon as Burton C. Bell promised.
Aggelos “Redneck” Katsouras.