GIG REVIEW: FEAR FACTORY & SOILWORK Live at Rams Head Live, Baltimore
Dawn 'Mama Love' Brown
On a rather chilly spring evening, a modest crowd gathered to witness Fear Factory’s ‘Demanufacture’ tour at Rams Head Live in Baltimore, MD., supported by Soilwork, Spades and Blades and Martyrd. Presumably, ticket sales for this show were lackluster as patrons of the previous day’s Baltimore Orioles Opening Day game were offered free admission to the show upon presenting their game ticket. It’s not clear how many baseball fans took advantage of the offer, but the audience did fill in nicely as the show progressed.
Opening the show was Martyrd, a 5-piece crew of gentlemen out of New York, NY. Martyrd definitely delivered a spirited performance, barging their way through songs like “The Mortal Coil” and “The Faceless”. Aaron Pollard’s vocals were slightly hard to hear, but when they were audible, they were clean and strong. Married with the double guitar threat of the two Mikes, Michael Andreas and Mike Kitsos, respectively, Brian Nichols on Bass and Randall Lee on drums, Martyrd is a force to be reckoned with. Keep your eyes on these guys.
Next up was Spades and Blades, a four-man band out of Los Angeles, CA. Cited as an LA Metalcore group, S&B pounded out riff-heavy selections from their latest album, ‘The End is Near’, such as “Domination” and “Isolation”. Vocalist Jason Todd tried to get a circle pit going but the crowd just didn’t bite. They still enjoyed a great fan response with the requisite jumping and head banging. Backed up by Justin Bullock on guitar, John Douglas on bass and Tommy Jean Stiles on drums, Spades and Blades dished out crunchy riffs and commanding melodies. Another band to keep an eye on.
Appearing next was melodic death metal giants, Soilwork. This band always gives an epic performance and this evening was no exception. Barreling through an eclectic mix of songs old and new and opening with “The Ride Majestic”, Soilwork commanded the stage as they always do. Bjorn “Speed” Strid’s vocals were stellar and Sylvain Coudret’s intricate guitar work shined on stage, effectively negating the unique faces Sylvain makes while he plays. Ronny Gutierrez, filling in for Dave Andersson on guitar, killed it and fit in harmoniously with the rest of the band, rounded out by Sven Karlsson on keys, Dirk Verbeuren on drums and Markus Wibom on bass. A humble but active pit finally erupted during “Follow the Hollow” and continued sporadically throughout their remaining set.
Headlining the night’s festivities was Fear Factory, descending onto the stage flanked in blue lighting which made for less than ideal photo conditions but added a slightly sinister vibe to the overall performance. Fear Factory opened with “Demanufacture” and continued headlong into the album in its entirety. This was a real treat for diehard FF fans. The crowd response waxed and waned revealing which songs were fan favorites. After a brief respite off stage after finishing the ‘Demanufacture’ set, the guys came back with an assortment of tracks from their various studio albums including “Edgecrusher”, “Soul Hacker” and “Dielectric”. Closing out with “Martyr”, Fear Factory delivered a crushing performance with Dino Cazares dominating the stage with searing riffs and groovy hooks. Burton Bell on vocals seemed slightly subdued, but Mike Heller’s thunderous drums and Tony Campos’ technical bass lines blended skillfully resulting in a heavy metal fracas enjoyed by all.
Bottom Line: Great show. I’m not sure why at least one band at all shows has to have sound mixing issues. Next time, just turn up the vocals!