Devin Townsend Project + Fear Factory + Tesseract @ Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Thursday 13th December 2012


Devin Townsend 2012 (2)Review by Dan Perks and photos by Tosh

The Epic Industrialist Tour sounded, well, epic. Sadly epic can only describe the queue for the bar.

I’m not going to lie, I wanted Tesseract to suck. I wanted to be able to slate them as over rated. This is not the case. Within the first two songs the audience were captivated, the technical wizardry and atmospheric melodies had almost everyone frozen with fascination. Only a few are brave enough to try and move and head bang to the staccato riffs and progressive time signatures. With very little interaction between the band and the crowd, Tesseract methodically work through a short, though flawless set of songs from 2011 release One. They disappear from the stage almost as quickly as they came on; the crowd applaud ferociously with approval.

As soon as Fear Factory take to the stage, the atmosphere amps up immensely. From the offset Fear Factory are crushingly heavy and phenomenally tight. However its clear, Burton C Bell appears to have left his clean vocals at home. It is quickly apparent that the years of touring have not been kind on his voice, at times it’s almost painful to listen to. Despite this, it is undeniable that Fear Factory is still a force to be reckoned with. The audience showed their love, as from the start of ‘Industrialist’ they seemed more than willing to assist with as much of the singing as possible, singing louder and clearer than Burton himself. Every fan favourite is there, ‘Edgedrusher’, ‘Shock’, ‘Martyr’, ‘Resurrection’ and pretty much all of the songs you would hope them to play. Throw in some of the stronger songs from recent albums, The Industrialist and Mechanize and you have one heavy fucking set list.

New band members Matt De’Vries and Mike Heller seem settled and confident on stage and the band ooze confidence. To close the set out Dino takes to the mic, taking a moment to thank the UK fans for their dedication to the band, helping them achieve their first gold record in 1995 with Demanufacture. To celebrate this they close out the set with four songs from the record. The final song, Replica, sounds as fresh and potent as it did in 1995 and closes out to an almost deafening roar from the energetic and vocal audience.

Filling the void between the co-headliners tonight is an election message from our favourite Alien invader, Ziltoid, who promises coffee and snot in return for votes. This is followed by a collection of animations and videos as eccentric as Devin’s own personality. Featuring sheep doing aerobics and a badger badger remix, it’s certainly entertaining.

Devin Townsend 2012 (3)Often hailed as one of the most amazing showman in modern heavy metal, Devin Townsend lives up to this moniker tonight. The shows opener ‘Supercrush’ sets the tone quickly; riff after riff pulsates through the venue. Devin constantly engaging the crowd, inciting jazz hands and sing along choruses. Although Devin is as charismatic and flamboyant as ever, the curse of the evening trickles into play. Endless touring seems to of taken its toll on Devin’s voice. The power of songs such as ‘Back Where We Belong’ and ‘Vampira’ were lost this evening. His voice sinks into the mix of the band and never really cuts through. The most surprising thing about Devin’s set is the songs from Epicloud. On record they sound soft and placid, played live though is another matter. ‘Grace’ feels crushingly heavy, the mellow vocals replaced with dry screams. The complex drum patterns provoke mass head banging from the audience and band alike. It doesn’t seem like long at all before Devin announces the evening’s final song, the never-before-played ‘Liberation’.

Although tonight may not have been the most musically sound gig ever, Devin is still the man we love to watch and listen to, the only person who seems to be able to coax metallers into doing jazz hands and embracing an image we often try to shrug off. Although the Epic Industrialist Tour may not have been epic, but through all of the minor falters and vocal troubles, this was an evening of two icons of Heavy metal bringing a smile to a few hundred metallers on a cold December’s night.