April 17, 2023 Static-X, Fear Factory, Dope, & Twiztid Rock Sold Out Denver, CO 4-11-23
Robots, clowns, mosh pits, crowd surfing, and high-octane Heavy Metal… one would think just the list alone would be enough in itself to sell a tour. And yet it seems to fall short of describing the Rise of the Machine Tour stopped by (featuring Static-X, Fear Factory, Dope, Twiztid, and Cultus Black) stopped in Denver, Colorado on April 11, 2023. However, this tour is not just simply about the theatrics or even 100% about the music, it was about honoring and remembering the passing Wayne Static plus celebrating his legacy that still stands true.
When Static-X debuted in 1999 with Wisconsin Death Trip, it almost seemed like it came out of nowhere. Their precision was razor sharp; their songs were so epidemically infectious it seemed like every song almost became an instant hit. Their band’s first one was “Push It” which got the crowds absolute attention, but follow that up with “I’m With Stupid,” “Bled for Days,” and “Love Dump” you start realizing this band had delivered an essential 10 out of 10 album that still stands as a bar setter. Their follow up, 2001’s Machine, was no exception with one of their creepiest tracks “Cold,” good thing as it provided the only memorable Horror factor to the movie Queen of the Damned. While one would be challenged to find even a single bad album amongst the six the band released – from the more melodic sounds of 2003’s Shadow Zone to the full-on pummeling sound of their heaviest album 2007’s Cannibal – the band’s internal history seemed to be more troubled. Then, on November 1st of 2014 sadly Wayne Static passed away, and to many fans that seemed to be the end of the band.
Surprisingly enough, in 2018, it was announced that the rest of the original lineup – Tony Campos (bass), Koichi Fukuda (guitar), and Ken Jay (drums) – were re-uniting and releasing a new album. Before the Blabbermouth complaint brigade could get to work on their keyboard rejection to the idea, details were revealed. Material on the album featured unreleased work with Wayne’s vocals and guest vocals by just a few folks like David Draiman, Al Jourgenson, and Burton C. Bell. Add to this a mysterious new singer named Xer0, and everyone can all take a moment to realize that Wayne Static himself would have thought this was pretty damn cool. This in mind, with the next album, Regeneration:Volume 2 set to be released in November and a new single of Static-X covering Nine Inch Nails’ “Terrible Lie” just dropping, the buzz was more than apparent with a completely sold out crowd in Denver at The Summit.
Kicking off the evening was a fresh new act Cultus Black. A band the crowd clamoring about thanks to an intense live set, next up was Hip Hop Horror duo Twiztid, Interestingly, some are not too familiar with the band, but hey, some people have barely crawled out of their apartments in the past few years… so hold the judgement. Anyway, the big question looming was – how would Twiztid mix with the likes of Fear Factory and Static-X. Well, just on the basis that they survived Detroit before getting the group going in 1997 would say they are not going to be shying away from the chance.
They kicked off their set with “Phlegm in the Windpipe” and instantly those folks found out what most knew since 1998’s debut Mostasteless that while the band’s core definitely is in Hip Hop their roots in metal cannot be denied. On vocals Jamie Madrox and Big Vin Dustin set disturbing mental images with lyrics that could easily be transposed to a Slayer song, joined by Derek Obscura on guitar, and Daniel Fox (who was pulling double sets playing with Dope on bass) on drums. Proving again their link to metal they jumped into their track “Envy” that they did with Ice Nine Kills, and their fans not only brought the energy but helped get new fans into it as well. The band had the party in full swing with tracks like “We Don’t Die,” “Buckets of Blood,” and closing out with “Parasite.” All in all, the Hip Hop veterans definitely proved they could get a show of metalheads moving.
If anyone got the opportunity to check out the “older days” of Static X, you probably had the chance to see them on tour at least once with a little band called Dope. The bands were close, and it was the perfect addition to the tour to pay homage to Wayne Static. Still going strong, Dope kicked off their set with a track from their new album from Feburary 2023 Blood Money Part Zer0 called “Blood Money,” and while the band has evolved quite a bit since their 1999 debut album, Felons and Revolutionaries, they still write one hell of a track to get the pit in motion and the headbangers raging.
Meanwhile, Acey Slade’s crushing guitar and wild antics alone had the audience in suspense. Add to that Daniel Fox crushing it on bass and Chrissy Warner (Butcher Babies) doing the same on drums, the band dare say was one of the best lineups. Frontman Edsel Dope, was completely at home in Denver sharing love for Wayne, talking about private parts in mashed potatoes, and reminding you that being Metal is a mental state and he could get the crowd going even while wearing sandals on stage (yes, you read that right).
Moving along, Dope jumped right into the track “Violence” from their 2009 album No Regrets, the Groove Metal track kept the pit going and the crowd in full swing. Don’t worry too much old school fans as the band cranked out a double header of “Debonaire” and “Die MF Die.” With a few more jokes and even a bit of a dig on the track they closed the night with, a cover of Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record),” Dope put on a hell of a show proving they still have the fire for this and the fans ready for the onslaught we know as Fear Factory.
Few bands have made an impact on the Metal community quite like Fear Factory. Since their 1991 debut album Soul of a New Machine, Fear Factory has established themselves as the very definition of ‘surgical precision,’ with the crushing guitars of Dino Cazares, hook lyrics like “Suffer Bastard,” and pulverizing beats all set to Industrial sounds. Never mind the personal connections between Static X and Fear Factory, if there is a Metal tour named Rise of the Machine it better have Fear Factory on it. However, this time Denver was seeing a new lineup as they welcomed new Frontman Milo Silvestro, Bassist Tony Campos (speaking of double duty band members), along with Havok Drummer Pete Webber… and they did not disappoint.
Without hesitation they unleashed the crushing track “Shock” from 1998’s Obsolete while the band put on a clinic and Silvestro’s voice was perfect and bringing his own energy made seeing Fear Factory like a new experience. Staying with the Obsolete album the band kept the crowd surfers flying with the blazing “Edgecrusher.” This in mind, the beauty of Fear Factory’s brutality is how consistent they have been with it through the years, and they fully demonstrated that with tracks like 2015’s “Dielectric” off of Genexus and a pulverizing showing of “Powershifter” from 2010’s Mechanize.
Closing out the night with “Replica” the bodies kept surfing, but this time Silvestro fully embraced his frontman role and launched himself to the barrier to sing with the fans. If you were a sceptic of this lineup before, get over it they sound damn good, and are a not to miss act. Nonetheless, the time arrives to throw some band aids on your war wounds and get ready for Static-X.
In a night full of surprises, the sound of the audience singing to Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” to kick things off was a welcome and lighthearted breather from the pulverizing Metal everyone experienced. Then, Static-X descended on the stage led by their new mystery robot Frontman Xer0 to the crunching riffs of and searing industrial sounds of “Permanence” from the 2001 album Machine. Just like that the crowd had been dosed with a shot of adrenaline and were letting loose.
Following a brief hello to the crowd, they were off to the races with “This is Not” from Machine and the whole band was following one another’s rhythm, bouncing off the ground to the beat. Keeping it going, they jumped into Wisconsin Death Trip bludgeoning the crowd with classics like “Love Dump,” “Wisconsin Death Trip,” “Fix,” and “of course, “Bled for Days.”
Full of energy, they closed out with one of their most brutal tracks “Cannibal” and their cover of “Terrible Lie.” A whole lot of fun, if you’re an old school fan, it was hard not to get very nostalgic with the memories around each of the songs matched with video clips. While we all celebrate the legacy Wayne Static and the other members of Static-X built for the fans, we should take the lesson of being thankful. Especially being thankful for all these musical memories we all share and never taking a moment of life for granted. Unfortunately, the tour wrapped up on April 15th, but keep your eye out for each of these bands, but especially the forthcoming release of never heard recordings of Wayne Static set for release toward the end of 2023.