It’s been well documented that the road to Aggression Continuum (Nuclear Blast Records), the latest album from Californian cyber-metallers Fear Factory, has been strewn with obstacles, challenges, and all manner of highly publicised internal disputes. Since its recording, the band has endured a lengthy legal battle which concluded with the departure of vocalist Burton C Bell, and saw guitarist, songwriter, and current studio bassist Dino Cazares winning the rights to the Fear Factory name via auction.
One positive to emerge from all the fallout and upheaval of the last few years, however, also happens to be the most important. The music. Regardless of the band’s current situation, Fear Factory’s tenth full-length studio release genuinely stands as one of their finest records to date. An achievement in itself under the circumstances.
With a typically dystopian science fiction intro, orchestrally cinematic opener ‘Recode’ batters the senses with staccato riffing and a monstrous chorus before ‘Disruptor’ steps in with a classic angular FF riff, a driving bassline, and pneumatic drumming courtesy of sticksman Mike Heller.
“No more will I be a victim!”, roars Bell, taking no prisoners on the defiant yet melodic title track while the slightly more lightweight blast of ‘Purity’ features computerised noises and a punishing breakdown. Taking it’s name from the 1979 Australian cult movie Mad Max, ‘Fuel Injected Suicide Machine’ is another classic-sounding FF cut complete with a killer chorus and riffs sharper than a Terminator’s night vision.
Opening with a portentously futuristic evacuation warning, ‘Collapse’ is a slow and methodical pummelling of the senses while the darkly melodic ‘Manufactured Hope’ and the equally powerful ‘Cognitive Dissonance’ continue to beat the listener into willing submission. Submitted by Bell as the album’s original title, ‘Monolith’ is one of the band’s more commercial offerings. Walking a fine line between classic FF and the heavier end of European power metal, the song is swathed in keyboards, features predominantly clean vocals, and even a fully-fledged guitar solo before the fittingly titled ‘End of Line’ concludes matters in savage yet melodic style.
A visceral exercise in ruthless efficiency, everything about Aggression Continuum is designed for maximum and immediate impact. Performed with surgical precision, each hook is instantly memorable, the drums are nothing short of devastating, Bell’s vocals are first-rate, and Dino’s riffs sound new and eager while also retaining an air of welcome familiarity. If this is indeed to be Burton’s last record with the band then there really couldn’t be a better swansong.
Buy Aggression Continuum here: https://www.fearfactory.com
9 / 10