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Different and Underrated - 82%

beardovdoom, September 30th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2004, CD, Liquid 8

This is probably the most intriguing album Fear Factory ever made. Not the best, but certainly interesting. The band had previously broken up, then reformed without Dino-the main songwriter, with Christian switching from bass to guitar and presumably writing duties. A big set of changes for a band that constantly evolved their sound...and went too far on the follow up to this album with "Transgression". That album not only strayed too far from FFs core sound, but also just wasn't that good in general. "Archetype", however, is a solid album that dabbles across the whole spectrum of FFs previous albums.

Considering the potentially divisive nature of this album and the changes mentioned above, there are no particularly negative reviews of this album on this website and I don't know any Fear Factory fans that dislike it. Dino has often claimed that the band at this time simply copied his old ideas and even rehashed his previous riffs, but I think that is just bitterness. This is a pleasantly surprising album which makes "Transgression" all the more disappointing, as "Archetype" suggested the band could continue strongly without Dino.

Onto the album itself. "Slave Labor" kicks things off in style. One of FFs best ever songs. Crunching riffs, blistering kick drums, huge sounding bass guitar and Burton delivering his vocals with utter conviction. Same goes for track 2 and first single "Cyberwaste". Raymond's drumming is unreal on this one. What a comeback song too, catchy yet heavy as fuck and very intense. Later on the album "Bonescraper" has a similar aggression reminiscent of earlier FF. These are the heaviest tracks on the album.

The majority of the rest of this album is somewhere between "Obsolete" and "Digimortal": Heavy songs but with plenty of clean vocals and catchy choruses, with less of the atmosphere found on "Demanufacture". This isn't a bad thing by any means, but people expecting "Demanufacture Part 2" will be disappointed. My general opinion on any band is that they should try to gradually evolve a core sound instead of repeating themselves constantly, something which Fear Factory have certainly managed even if the end result isn't always great.

There are very few tracks that I have issues with. "Act of God" is filler and the last track "Ascension" is the standard ambient outro they've done before, except this one is particularly boring. Also, it would be the end of the album if it wasn't for the utterly worthless Nirvana cover tacked onto the end. The original is shit, all FF do is 'heavy' it up. Even though this album has no overall concept like previous albums, this track still doesn't fit. It isn't in the style of the rest of the songs, it isn't good and it seems like a pointless afterthought. Seriously, if it was a particularly famous Nirvana song I could maybe understand the record label trying to milk it (like the "Cars" cover) but no, this is a waste of CD space.

Those 3 tracks aside, I can understand why some fans may dislike the two 'ballads'. Personally I have no real issue with "Bite the Hand that Bleeds" or "Human Shields" but they are slower and not typical FF tracks. As for the rest of the songs that I haven't mentioned, as I said above could easily fit on the two previous albums.

Performance wise, Burton mixes harsh shouts and clean vocals as usual and his performance is top quality. Lyrically, there is no concept and as such the songs have more varied lyrical topics. Self immolation, internet tough guys, certain ex members, politics, corporations etc all get touched upon and of course technology gets a few mentions. So if you're into FF for man vs machine concepts only, this isn't the place to look. Again, I have no problems with the wider range of lyrics here.

Musically this is standard FF and to be honest you barely notice the absence of Dino. Christian does a good job of carrying on his style which suggests the previous claims to his growing influence on their sound before the split are probably true. The riffs are generally solid and typical FF. He played all the guitar and bass here and I have to especially note the much more obvious bass sound. He has an amazing tone and for once it is allowed to shine. Big basslines ride through "Slave Labor" and "Default Judgement", nothing spectacular but solid lines with an immense, deep tone. Raymond does the usual business on drums, perhaps lacking variety with his hands but those incredible kick drums are his typical dominant, crushing and mechanical style. So top marks for musicianship and production sound here.

To summarize, this isn't "Demanufacture Part 2". It isn't really like any other Fear Factory album, instead a generally excellent mix of the previous albums with perhaps a few more more modern twists. Certainly a diverse album, likely to please open minded fans simple because the song writing is so strong. Widely regarded as a return to form/good comeback album, I'd have to agree with that.

Recommended: Slave Labor, Cyberwaste, Corporate Cloning, Default Judgement.

Half killer, half filler. - 65%

Maiestas, March 4th, 2009

Well, first of all I must say that Fear Factory always was one of my favorite bands. Since the very first time I heard "Demanufacture", back in the mid-90's, I loved their own approach to metal and instantly became a fan of their music. As a matter of fact, I really enjoyed each and every album that the Los Angeles based quartet had released up to the infamous "Digimortal" (a quite shitty release, to say the least), which marked the beginning of all the controversy with Dino Cazares and such. You all know the history, I think.

That being said, I was really eager for listening their highly-anticipated comeback with "Archetype". I had a lot of expectations deposited on this record, since all the rumours were suggesting that style-wise it was going to be in the vein of "Demanufacture". And, gladly enough, for the first six tracks I can assure that it is.

In fact, the classic trademark sound of the old Fear Factory (lots of double bass, aggresive vocals, catchy choruses... even some blastbeats here and there) shines through the first half of the album like it never did for years. I guess you can say its some "back to the roots" kind of thing or whatever. Songs like "Slave Labor", "Drones", or specially, "Cyberwaste", bring us the Fear Factory formula at its best: heavy and powerful, yet melodic and groovy tunes with a futuristic edge. This first half of the album could be easy labelled as "Demanufacture Part. 2" and its amazing... while it lasts.

Unfortunately, the remaining half (with the honourable exception of "Bonescraper", which is great also) is nothing but a filler. At least to my ears. And it's a big fuck-up, because "Archetype", seen as a whole, is ruined to a great extent by these less inspired and dull songs. Namely, "Bite the hand that bleeds", "Undercurrent", "Default Judgement" and "Human Shields" not only sound softer, but also look like b-sides in comparison to the first songs. As far as "Ascension" is concerned, this is a needless keyboard-driven instrumental track whose listening is just a waste of time. And "School"... oh, well, that's a cover from Nirvana and it sucks big time. As simple as that.

But lets get back to the positive aspects of the album, shall we? Regarding this subject it is worth mentioning that the production is awesome. Rather than aiming for an ultra-clean, almost artificial sound (just like their previous releases), "Archetype" is granted with a slightly touch of rawness which perfectly fits to the music. Thus, every instrument sounds great but also very natural. This is specially noticeable in the drums, less triggered and consequently more organic. By the way, the performance of Raymond Herrera on this recording is probably his best so far. The thing is that besides his foot work (impressive as always), Mr. Herrera adds an unexpected, but welcomed, wide range of rolls and fills to his drum patterns.

To sum up, "Archetype" could be a killer release but it has ended up being just an average album. There's no doubt that its overall rating could be much higher if some songs were removed from the final tracklist. Even then, it is interesting to a certain point and it is worth a listen, even if it is only for the first 26 minutes.

Unbridled fury - 70%

kapitankraut, August 27th, 2007

Fear Factory's "Archetype", their first album since the departure of Dino Cazares, features much of the band's traditional fury - directed, as per normal, at the wider society. A few songs here are clearly directed at record companies ("Slave Labor" and "Corporate Cloning"), which is perhaps only to be expected given the band's split from their label at roughly the same time as this album was recorded.

The hallmarks of Fear Factory's sound are well and truly present here. Burton Bell's roared vocals, a massive wall of guitars and frantic drumming - which is achieved through triggering, but even that realisation doesn't dull the impact of the whole package. That distinctively quasi-industrial precision of sound is also here, which shouldn't really surprise anyone given that this is a band whov'e always been interested in the relationship between man and machine. From the moment that "Slave Labor" starts, the album leaps out of the gates and really doesn't let up on the pace until around the 11th track, the mellow "Human Shields". Well, perhaps "mellow" isn't quite the right word, since the volume is still well and truly turned up on all the instruments - it's just that the band seems slightly more reflective here than at any other point on the album.

"Human Shields" is in fact followed by "Ascension", a 7-minute synth-based piece which is practically ambient music, although Burton's voice (repeating a phrase from the previous track) floats in and out of the mix a little bit. It's an unusual detour on an album which is generally all about sheer destructive volume. The onslaught is re-started immediately afterwards with "School", but I feel that the momentum is a bit lost as a result of the synth track.

The one weakness of the album, and it's a weakness which I've found is the case over most of Fear Factory's career, is that over the course of the album the rage gets a bit blurred. Yes, each and every track is superbly furious by itself, but many of them seem almost interchangeable over nearly an hour. Taken individually, however, these are all (with the exception of "Ascension", which is a different case entirely) tracks which can stand up for themselves. It's just that listening to them one after the other shows up their lack of differentiation.

Still, as a Fear Factory album, this is a prime example of the band's sound and well worth a listen.

Redemption Never Sounded So Sweet - 93%

darkreif, March 8th, 2007

Archetype is essentially redemption. The word archetype refers to something that is the prime example and the album is damn near close to fitting its title. This album is a complete throwback to the Demanufacture era of Fear Factory – and right from the kick off of the album, the listener knows this.

Fear Factory has had their ups and downs in their career but since their “break-up” and the departure of (now ex) guitarist Dino Cazares it seems as if Fear Factory has found renewed vigor and vitality to create some aggressive industrialized death metal music. The line-up has shifted slightly (Wolbers left his previous bass position to play guitar and Stroud has entered the line-up as bass player) but really this album doesn’t feel as though the line-up has changed at all – and if anything, the band seems to be clicking even better.

This album hasn’t gone “back to the roots” of Fear Factory, despite what many people love to claim. This is essentially Fear Factory evolving once again towards a more aggressive form of music. It’s not Demanufacture Pt. 2 or anything like that. It has its own identity. The guitar tones are heavy and rhythmic (if they weren’t it wouldn’t be Fear Factory) and Wolbers does an amazing job and sounds even tighter than Cazares did. The rhythms are pounding in the faster songs and the melodies in the slower songs (Bite the Hand That Bleeds is already a classic) are unmistakenably well written.

But with Wolbers being both a monster on bass earlier and guitar now – how does the new man in the band hold up? Pretty fucking well – is my answer. The bass is deep and threatening and undertones the album just perfectly to make Fear Factory really shake the walls. He proved himself to be good in Strapping Young Lad and I have nothing but praise for him now in Fear Factory.

Drumming has always been one of Fear Factory’s strongest suits and Archetype doesn’t let the fans down. With double bass parts that put some black metal to shame and cymbal work that puts some progressive metal to shame – this album has most of everything. “Cyberwaste” is a great example of his work on this album. What’s really strange about this album though is that the drumming doesn’t stand out quite as much as it previously did. The music is written so that each individual part fits nicely together and doesn’t overpower anything.

Burton C. Bell is impressive. He is on top with this album. He doesn’t use a lot of synthetic elements on his voice – although there is some towards the latter part of the album. He really hits his high register at the end of the album (Ascension has some amazing vocal melodies) and even in the beginning of the album, when he does most of his death metal work – he really keeps the music from getting too heavy and keeping it slightly melodic. The industrial keys and samples help with giving the album a good variety but it’s really Burton’s job to do that. And he does it well.

The one strange complaint I have about Archetype (which I read isn’t on all versions of the album) is the very unusual inclusion of a Nirvana bonus track. Fear Factory very much made the song their own – but with all bonus tracks it feels very out of place with an epic song like “Ascension” ending the album. The album has good flow and then that cover just kind of spoils it. (I usually just skip it).

Fear Factory has redeemed themselves from their last album. Archetype is amazing from start to finish (even though the latter half of the album is a little repetitive and not quite as good as the first half). The new rearranged line-up is hitting their marks and the band hasn’t sounded this good in a long time.

Songs to check out: Cyberwaste, Archetype, Bite the Hand That Bleeds.

Fear the comeback that doesn't suck - 79%

Cedric, November 30th, 2004

How many times have you heard of a “come-back” album with stickers on it saying “going back to their roots”? St. Anger comes to mind, or Megadeth’s last atrocity. I think Fear Factory is the only band that actually accomplished this. They fired the fatass guitarist, and now that the bassist does all guitar duties, it actually sounds tighter than before (maybe the fat got in Dino’s way while playing). The drumming is beyond excellent, as is expected with these guys. They truly have something to say too, as the lyrics are a little bit more mature this time.

The songs are beefy, and even though the usual Fear Factory choruses with clean vocals exist, they don’t seem overdone or “old”. Fear Factory definitely has a lot of energy, especially shown in songs like Cyberwaste, which actually makes me want to create something similar right now.

The only thing that could be criticized is that they downtuned even more (to B, luckily not lower), which does add a nice beefy sound, but it creates that feeling of typical death metal/nu-metal muddiness. The fact that Christian Olde Wolbers does both guitar and bass on this album makes the bass come out a little bit more, and the intro to the titletrack shows this. I obviously have a bias towards bass, but I love hearing a little more bass in the mix, so this adds a point to my rating.

Good comeback, very energetic.

A decent album - 82%

TheBigDizzle, May 21st, 2004

This album is good. It is no ‘Soul of a new machine’ or ‘obsolete’, but this album is good in it’s own way. First off, it’s simply nice to see that Fear Factory are back and making music again, they have always been a talented band in my eyes. But anyways, lets start with the vocals. Burton does kind of growly vocals, and then he will switch them to regular vocals, this might actually not sit right with a lot of people, it might depend on your tolerance for melodic breakdowns.

Next is the guitar work. This album features some pretty good riffs, nothing mind blowing but they can be catchy at times and are for the most part good, next time around though, it might be nice to see a little more of their technical skill we all know they are capable of displaying.

The Drums on the album, also seem simple at times, but none the less, they are played very well, and are probably one of my favourite parts of this album, they always seem to go along with the music perfectly and are very functional.

I don’t know about the lyrics with this album, some of it just seems kind of nu-metalish. The first time I found the especially notable was in the song ‘Cyberwaste’ when the first lyrics are “Nothing you say matters to us!” “Fuck you”. I don’t know, that just seems like it didn’t need to be there, I would like to think that they are capable of more intelligent lyrics than that, but that isn’t saying the whole album is bad for this, just at certain times like that.

I my only other criticism of this album is the Nirvana cover “School”. I just think that is totally out of place and is not a good song to begin with. It’s simply a miracle that FF can play their instruments so well to give the song some goodness. So anyways, this album is worth picking up of you are a Fear Factory song, are in the mood for something a little more simple and easy to get in to.

I should NOT like this, goddammit. - 85%

icedray, May 14th, 2004

I have ignored this band for a long time. I heard a few songs scattered here and there over the years but the only 2 things that came to my mind were - industrial metal and *gasp* mallcore. Well, guess what? I HATE both genres. So logically, I avoided Fear Factory like the plague.

Anyhoo, one night while watching MTV's Headbangers Ball (oh the horror of it all), I come across the video for "Cyberwaste". The second that it finished I thought to myself "Boy, I would really like to hear that again." Passing it off as maybe a slight bout of hysteria, I TRIED to ignore the fancy thought. But guess what? I could not. I could not get the friggin' song out of my head. Everything about the song would lead me to hate it but I didn't.

I NEEDED to hear it again. So at the next trip to Newbury Comics, I find this album used for only $6.99. Hey, I can cough up that much for something I will probably sell back the next day, right? Uh, well, I spun this album and for fucksake if I did not dig the majority of this album, dammit.

Before I go into the songs, I will just say I still sense the industrial and mallcore leanings throughout this album. FF fanboys can cry blasphemy all they want but I gotta be honest here. FF are to my ears, a degree of mallcore. Not mallcore like the putrid Limp Dick or Stinkin Park and not even mallcore like Korn or Slipknot for that matter. But in its essence, this music is ............uh, lets see.........how to we -put this................a crossover of metal and mallcore. There are no solos, there are stop/start riffs, there are angst lyrics to a degree, and some of this stuff is MTV/radio friendly.

Bottomline, despite what I think this music is, I still really like this album and just like Halford came out for his love of penis, I must come out of the closet to admit that I like Fear Factory. *double gasp*

I would give a detailed description of the songs but this is Fear Factory. THe creation of the wheel is nowhere to be found. Its machine gun drums and riffing, with Burton's mix of growling and clean vocals with some sound effects. You know what this band sounds like and they STILL sound like that.

So you ask "Why the fuck are you even bothering writing a review about this?" Good question but my only answer to this is simple. Its about ths songs, man. Yeah, thats right - the FUCKING songs. This is top notch SONGWRITING. Talk about melody and being catchy and still wanting you to headbang and thrash out - this shit does just that.

Songwriting - the lost art. Metal bands of all genres today are too worried about being br00tal, speed, being grim, shredding, or being a bombastic choir or whatever else. However, they forget about writing good fuckin' songs. But a final guess what? Fear Factory does not forget on this album.

These are flat out great songs regardless of classification. Songs like Slave Labor, Act of God, Cyberwaste, Drones, and Archetype are written very well. Not too long, not too short, appropriate mix of growls/clean vox, and very memorable choruses.

Besides the songwriting, note should also be given to Burton. His vocals are very good on both ends of the spectrum and the best part - he doesn't fucking WHINE! Also, the lyrics are better than your average nu-metal shite.

Final point - this album ends on 2 sour notes - the songs Ascension and School (a Nirvana cover for chrissakes). Both songs suck big time but thank god they are at the end so for me, this album ends with "Human Shields".

Mallcore, its not your annoying little brother's music anymore.

new soul of an old machine - 75%

Apophis, April 19th, 2004

How on earth am I meant to review this?

I shall put aside all the cynicism and slight resentment I felt not just around the time rumours were flying round about a reformation, but when that had been confirmed and it was being speculated as what it would sound like.

Let's get this straight. Regardless of your personal views on whether or not this is "Fear Factory" - referring to the acrimonious ditching of Dino Cazeras, moving Wolbers up to guitar, and bringing in old buddy Byron Stroud on bass - the fact of the matter is, politics aside, this is far far stronger an album than Digimortal (which some would rightly argue doesn't exactly take much) and to a certain extent better than Obsolete.

The overall sound is not easy to categorically put down, but the majority of the material fits into a sort of period of time in between Demanufacture and Obsolete, with the occasional - and slightly nauseating - overlong melodic breakdown. One thing has to be mentioned as well, sure Raymond Herrera has pretty much proved virtually all his critics wrong about how excellent a drummer he is just because of the triggers, by doing some really strong work on this album.... the only thing is he seems to have borrowed at least one or more of Lars Ulrichs infamous drums from the recording of St Anger.
Normally in the course of the songs this is for the most part masked by the now-trademark machine-gun riffing, but occasionally it shows itself up to be quite annoying.

Whether or not Fear Factory can arrest the current backlash seemingly aimed straight at them from the slightly dubious split-cum-reformation or the hatred hurled at their previous (incarnation's) studio attempt - the flop that was 'Digimortal'. By reading some of the lyrics though, I honestly don't think they care that much, either that or they have even more bravado than ever.

I won't bother with a song by song breakdown, as basically anyone that can recognise an 'Obsolete' period Fear Factory song will pretty much know what to expect here.

Some have said mixed things from this being Fear Factory's heaviest release since their debut, or their heaviest full stop. Well yes in places this is heavier than Demanufacture, but that was as far more a rounded individual and QUALITY weight-around-your-neck as you're likely to get.

Don't expect great things from this album and you won't be disappointed. (Believe the hype and) Expect the best album Fear Factory have made, and be very disappointed indeed.

Soalobsodearchefactimortal - 70%

TheSiegeReloaded, March 14th, 2004

After recent Fear Factory releases there was much left to be desired. Now, with the absence of Dino Cazares, the band hammers out their attempt at a good album again. And it worked, sorta...

The album opens with what is literally one of their best songs ever, Slave Labor. Every little bit of this song is great. The vocals, the lyrics, the bass kicks, the guitar, everything. In fact, there's no a dull moment on the album... For the frist half of it. Slave Labor, Cyberwaste, Corporate Cloning, and Archetype are all amazing tracks, and Act of God and Drones are decent enough as well. But it's the second half of the disc where things get a little, um, uncool.

Tracks like Undercurrent, Bite The Hand That Bleeds, Human Shields are just flat out boring songs. Then there's the utterly terrible Bonescraper, which features Korn-like guitar riffs, Default Judgement which musically sounds like Rammstein's Sonne. The worst thing on the album overall though is "Ascension" which is all synth, and rehashed vocals from a couple other songs on the disc. It's a snore. The only thing that redeems the second half of the disc is the cover of Nirvana's "School" which is one hell of an accomplishment, since they took a shitty song and made it great.

The album really is a mixed bag, I do recomend it though for fans, as in some ways it's a return to Demanufacture. But be weary, in some ways it's also a return to Digimortal (the vocal department). Overall, 70/100

Definately some kind of comeback. - 76%

SculptedCold, March 1st, 2004

Before I review this, i'd just like to state that i've never considered Digimortal that bad of an album. My only real beef with it was Back the Fuck Up (obviously) and the fact that it just wasn't an 'epic' album like Obsolete or Demanufacture.

That's why Archetype is a return to form for Fear Factory to these ears. Musically, Archetype is a subtle readjustment of all of Fear Factory's previous trademarks. It abandons almost all of the minute electronic detailing that featured so prominently in Digimortal, and instead relegates it to a background role subservient to atmosphere and mood. Song lengths have increased in time over Digimortal, which allows more space for that 'epic' feel that was lacking in the to-the-point approach of Digimortal. Herrera's guitar-complementing double bass is the same as it ever was, but the riffs themselves are generally similar to Digimortal in thier limited scope and length, giving Archetype a punishing and unified percussive approach. The return to form however lies in the splicing of this with the very expansive but arguably underdeveloped choruses of Burton's clean vocals. While the heaviness of Fear Factory is still there, the softer songs like Human Shields, Archetype and Undercurrent succeed in establishing a sombre and foreboding mood that is reminiscent of A Therapy For Pain or Timelessness but not the overeagerly attempted in Invisible Wounds and Memory Imprints from Digimortal. The result is a successful sober balance that many would likely call a 'maturing' of Fear Factory.

That's not to say Archetype is completely successful, because it's not. While inspired, varied, and textured in many places, there are definately some moments that just fail utterly. 'Bite the Hand that Bleeds' could very well be the worst song Fear Factory has ever written; a slow and uneventful song filled with clean vocals which literally go nowhere and have no hook whatsoever. It's painful listening to Burton striving so hard and hitting no interesting notes whatsoever. Default Judgement takes one mediocre riff and murders it ad infinatum for the entire song, the quiet drums/whispered vocals sections and clean choruses don't alter the fact that sometimes Fear Factory just don't write interesting enough riffs to support 4 or 5 minutes worth of material. On the other side of the spectrum, the all-synth closer Ascension is completely unneccessary. Almost nothing happens in it and its minimalism does nothing for the charged atmosphere established by the rest of the album.....why it's there at all is puzzling.

Having said all that, my ultimate feeling after listening to the album is that it is a decent return to form, but maybe not quite the masterpeice some may credit it as in comparison to the much-bashed Digimortal.