Many times in music journalism, we writers are given to hyperbole, often because it is the low hanging fruit of the field to gush about the classics with a torrent of compliments. You often read words like genre-defying, and frankly, a lot of the time they don’t land as they are meant to. However, in the case of the entire career of Fear Factory and certainty of the album Demanufacture (Roadrunner Records), the words can never do proper justice to the music. Simply stated, Deamnfacture is one of the most important, unique, and unapologetically brutal albums in heavy metal history. Continue reading
Reviewing a new Fear Factory album in 2015 is like purchasing the Blu-Ray edition of a film you already own on DVD. It’s a good movie and it’s all shiny and high-definition like, but overall there’s no substantial surprises. A new commentary track and special features (or in this analogy, lyrics) are nice perks.
Long story short, there’s not a whole lot of deviation. In that regard Fear Factory’s Genexus (Nuclear Blast) is similar enough to the last review I penned, Kataklysm’s Of Ghosts and Gods. Sure, they’re both new albums, but do you really expect (or want) a dramatic stylistic change from these extreme metal institutions?
All the core Fear Factory components that made 2010s Mechanize and 2012s The Industrialist memorable are back. Vocalist Burton C. Bell and guitarist/bassist Dino Cazares are still playing nice while under the guidance of longtime collaborator and producer Rhys Fulber. Two of the songs feature Blade Runner samples so yeah, the man grappling against artificial intelligence theme is present again. Really, the biggest or only variations to be found here are a return to live drumming (a strong performance from Mike Heller) and the record label.
If you’ve had the pleasure of listening to Demanufacture or Obsolete you’re gonna hit the ground running on this outing. Seriously, like those two landmarks we open with some industrial samples/noises that lead into a jack hammer of a song and 40 minutes or so later the album is bookended by a sweeping and melodic closer (this time in the form of the excellent ‘Expiration Date’).
And that’s a good thing. Very good if you’re into this sort of metallic business. But wait, there’s more. In between the covers you also get slabs of brutal groove like ‘Anodized’ and ‘Soul Hacker.’ It’s all the downtuned 7-string chug coupled with machine-gun fire kick drums your little mechanical heart desires. And despite being in this racket for 25+ years, Bell still can do the bark and croon thing better than most.
Although if they’re going to keep moving forward with the “cybermetal” sound (or whatever Fear Factory refer to themselves these days) I’d like to see it with the full classic lineup. That means bringing bassist Christian Olde Wolbers and skinsman Raymond Herrera out of exile. They were there for the Demanufacture and Obsolete days, they should be here for the resurgence.