I have been a fan of Fear Factory since the beginning. Browsing the record store and stumbling across their debut album “Soul of a New Machine“, instantly getting hooked, I have followed them ever since. Now with their latest album “The Industrialist” I can say “it’s about damn time!” Fear Factory are finally back on the right path once again. For the three people reading this who don’t know about the Fear Factory history, I’ll give you the ultra short short version.
Around 1995 Fear Factory released what many still consider one of the top industrial-metal albums called “Demanufacture“. After the success of that album, the crew sort of lost their musical way for a bit and even went their separate ways for a while and worked on other projects. The Fear Factory “sound” was fading and many believed the solo projects to be the end of Fear Factory. Then in 2009 two of the original key members, Burton Bell and Dino Cazares made amends and together with Byron Stroud and Gene Hoglan created “Mechanize“. “Mechanize” was their first effort to return to form but still fell a little short (in my opinion).
Now Fear Factory have released “The Industrialist“. Stripping the band down to just the core of Burton and Dino, Fear Factory teamed up with Industrial music icon and producer Rhys Fulber (Front Line Assembly, Conjure One). Fulber not only produced but also performed keyboards, programming and sampling for the album. The decision to cut back was clearly a smart move as “The Industrialist” is one hell of an album.
“The Industrialist” is eight tracks of deafening sonic goodness Fear Factory is known for. On this album they assault you from all sides with their pummeling drums combined with crunchy guitars and Burtons essential vocal barking. Tracks like “New Messiah” and “Recharger” feel extremely close to what the guys did back on “Demanufacture“. They have Burton’s signature aggressive bark combined with his softer, melodic singing. The drums blast away in signature Fear Factory heavy rhythm while the guitars chug.
One thing I noticed on all the tracks is the amount of layering done for each one. With every listen you can pick up new sounds buried within, especially with the track “God Eater.” You can hear the Rhys influence on this track. There’s a nice piano intro and outro and things are slowed down some overall, but the song still crushes with heaviness. Within the music however you can hear the various layers of drums, layered guitars, swirling vocals, ambient noises and sound effects.
There are two tracks that don’t quite fit with the album. The final two tracks “Religion is Flawed Because…” is an instrumental tune with sweeping sounds. While still an interesting track, it is far different compared to others on the album. The other is the final track “Human Augmentation“, which is creepy with distorted, low pitch talking enveloped in industrial and digital ambient noise. Creepy and kinda cool but it doesn’t quite fit with the other tracks.
I will admit, at first I was a little disappointed when I heard Fear Factory decided to use programmed drums instead of a live drummer. You can’t tell the difference (unless you have a keen ear for drums). Given the Industrial-Metal genre Fear Factory firmly resides in, it’s really not that much of an odd thing. It almost makes them even more mechanical, which is what they’ve always been about.
I think it’s safe to say that “The Industrialist” is Fear Factory finally returning to form. Combining the skills they had around “Demanufacture” and adding what they’ve learned over the years, they’ve created an excellent album that no Fear Factory fan should be disappointed with.
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