Saturday, August 15, 2015

Concert Review: Coal Chamber, Fear Factory

The “Rivals” tour, in many ways, was a tour that shouldn’t have been.  The two headliners, Fear Factory and Coal Chamber, both had been through a lifetime of musical acrimony, an almost stage-worthy amount of triumphs and battles and reconciliation to rise again.  Nobody would have blamed either band if they had decided to call it a day years ago, but the furnace of metal’s molten heart churns with fervor, so each band has continued on the path.  Now, some twenty years after Fear Factory’s Dino Cazares first started peddling Coal Chamber’s demo tape, the two bands share the stage.

Fresh off the road from an extensive tour of Europe with Hatebreed, Jamey Jasta wasn’t content to sit around and wait for another opportunity.  As he explained to the crowd, when you get the call from Dez Fafara asking to go on the road and play in support of this particular twin bill, you have no choice but to accept.  With that in mind, Jasta pulled together his solo metal project of the same name and immediately turned around to hit the highway again, this time with thirty more minutes of heavily rhythmic, crowd-exciting material.  Jasta wasn’t content to stick just to their catalogue, even as the headbanging excitement of “Nothing They Say” washed over the crowd at large and the mosh pit in particular.  Jasta reached back into the catalogue of music they love, pulling out a fiery cover of Running Wild’s “Soldiers of Hell,” to the delight of the older fans in attendance.  Jasta the man, over and above the other band members onstage, was a smiling dynamo, happy to be anywhere playing music where people were gathered to hear it.  With a flourish and a promise of more Hatebreed to come, the set was over, leaving the crowd primed for the industrial evening of metal to come.

Fear Factory’s set could have gone a lot of different ways.  With their new album “Genexus” less than a week old, one might have expected that the band would lean heavily on new material for their set.  To accompany this, it would have fallen right in line for FF to concentrate their efforts on songs that have been written since the re-unification with Cazares.

Ever the crowd pleaser, Fear Factory instead decided to start as they always start – with “Shock,” a song from 1998, arguably one of the greatest crowd inciters ever, as the bass drops and a whole new generation of moshers take to slamming into one another.  Not inclined to let the momentum subside, “Shock” naturally had to transition into “Edgecrusher,” cascading over the frenzied masses in a tidal wave of beat-driven industrial.  The past would continue to hold court throughout the set, as “Powershifter” gave way to “What Will Become” and “Damaged,” two memorable cuts from the often forgotten and overlooked “Digimortal.”

Naturally, the new songs, when the band displayed them, stood up just as well as the old, the pounding of “Soul Hacker” and the charged current of “Dialectric” exciting the newer fans who were just coming to the band for the first time.

Yet the show to this point felt incomplete.  There was a giant gap in the programming schedule that felt conspicuously empty.  2015 marks the 20th anniversary of Fear Factory’s greatest song writing triumph, “Demanufacture.”  Bell and company made the crowd wait patiently until the very end, smiling from ear to ear while ripping into the title track of that seminal album, and closing the show, as they always do, with a stunningly powerful “Replica.”

Which brought the proceedings lastly to Coal Chamber.  There was palpable anticipation surrounding the band’s set swirling in eddies around the club, but very little sense of what the show would actually look like.  Thirteen years removed from their last album, Coal Chamber took the stage with more questions than answers floating above their heads.

Dez Fafara immediately dispelled some of the unworded queries by plunging himself headlong into the performance, channeling all the piss and vinegar that made his delivery so unique when the band debuted.  The gauntlet he had worn so long to cover his Coal Chamber tattoo during the DevilDriver tours had been summarily discarded, a silent pledge of his solidarity to whatever form this tour took.
Similar to the band on the stage before them, Coal Chamber focused their efforts on the songs that longtime fans wanted to see.  As seemed fitting, “Loco” opened the proceedings, establishing the crushing, beat-driven pace that would dictate the color and attitude of their set.  For all the long absence, the band surrounding Fafara seemed both relaxed and intent, striving to provide the paying customers with a show they’d be proud to say they witnessed.  “Big Truck” followed the opener, another punishing reminder of the days that were in the band’s halcyon era.

The new material from “Rivals” fared just as well in comparison to the old, with “I.O.U Nothing,” and “Another Nail in the Coffin” reflecting well against the dingy sheen of the pieces surrounding.  That was really a central theme of the entire set – that Coal Chamber may have left, but they remain the band upon their return, possessed of the same sensibilities and musical acumen as they utilized on their first run.

Now, does that mean that the new songs sounded just as good as timeless fan favorites like the steamroller or “I” or the infectious, singalong repetition of “Sway,” which capped off the evening?  If we’re being honest, probably not, but that’s not a fault of the band or the music – classics are so partly because they’ve had time to settle in, and those last two pieces were coupled with the catharsis of hearing them again for the first time in a while.

The one curious turn of the night was that Coal Chambers set blasted by in a brisk forty-five minutes or so, which was enough time to give the crowd what they wanted, but perhaps not quite enough to truly satiate long-dry thirst.  Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable effort, one that Dez punctuated by essentially telling the crowd that they were thrilled for the support, because there is currently no idea how, when or in what form Coal Chamber will continue, if at all.  With that last thank you, the lights came up, the house music started and the satisfied crowd made its way into a muggy summer night.

No comments:

Post a Comment