London Kentish Town Bull & Gate

[a]Fear Factory[/a] could well be the bleakest band on the planet...

Aw shucks, this is too cute. It’s [a]Fear Factory[/a] drummer Raymond Herrera‘s birthday, so he’s got a cake and everybody’s singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him. And that’s the only moment of humanity on show tonight.

Because [a]Fear Factory[/a] have a vision. A vision of a world where mankind is redundant, controlled and hunted by machines. A bit like Terminator, then, but with louder guitars. And like the film, tonight’s gig is an unrelenting, adrenalised maelstrom of absolute ferocity, the sound of metal grinding against metal, where even the obligatory token slow song ‘A Therapy For Pain’ feels like a tower block collapsing on your head.

Owing plenty to Pantera and German industrial pioneers Die Krupps, [a]Fear Factory[/a] could well be the bleakest band on the planet. Songs like ‘Smasher/Devourer’ rise and resonate like hymns, offering brutal salvation as guitars excavate your ribcage and Burton Bell intones paranoid mantras under a backdrop of disembodied brains and spinal columns.

But you write [a]Fear Factory[/a] off as another schlock-horror cartoon at your peril, because their meshing of extreme metal rage and heavy-duty synthetics is as exhilarating as it is overwhelming. As the machine gun attack of ‘Piss Christ’ raises the suffocating heat another few degrees, Marilyn Manson doesn’t seem quite so hard after all. The future is bleak indeed, and [a]Fear Factory[/a] are here to make sure it’s more terrifying than you can possibly imagine.