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I’ll admit it now; me and FEAR FACTORY haven’t had a good relationship. I wasn’t too thrilled by their earlier deathly roots and found their later KORN-fed machinations all the more abhorrent. Still, prattled on they did, churning out albums and tours despite their apparent dismissal from the overt popularity radar screen, And outside of seeing a few songs of theirs live back in 2005 I’d pretty much forgotten they were still around (save for rumbling news on behalf of a few projects that contained the FACTORY workers), and as a result I wouldn’t know how time had worked for them lo these many successive years.
And with that, my curiosity as to how re-or-demanufactured FEAR FACTORY had become became a bit too loud to ignore…
Well, I know this much…they still don’t really throw me. And if nothing else they seem low on gas in this regard. While I am not counting their way too processed production values (theirs is of the mechanized type, thus the album name, I get that), the artificiality is also equal in part with the musical scheme of things, which does nothing for anyone save for the band themselves and what fan base is still present. There’s attempts at brutality present, as if the band spent a few months improperly ingesting mid-to-late-era SOILWORK before it came time to write this new album, but for the most part FEAR FACTORY take the nu metal/hardcore elements that made them a household name in the 90s for Adidas-clad wiggery, Mansonites and those who raged against the machine to a new level of banality, where faux machismo, feeble acts of “heaviness” and attempts at modern melodic tendencies do nothing to coalesce or gel into anything that tickles the ear drum. To make matters worse it also doesn’t seem like the band gives a damn this time around; a sensation of simply going through the motions is in play, where the gear-grating guitar riffs, drum machine-emulating percussion (always sweet how one-time mainstream acts take to blast beats like it could very well be a new feature) and a combination of hardcore shouts, whiny clean vocals and attempts at further vocal grimness may work for the band at a performance level, but when it comes to actually LISTENING to this dreck, it doesn’t work. At all. And it’s even more irritating when the band toys with you; the way they seemingly have the ability to create decent riff work but spend most of the time interspersing the stop-start -core bullshit over and over and over again until you’re begging for mercy…huh…maybe that’s what they were shooting for. Nevertheless, this makes for a bothersome, overtly digitized listen that could’ve been better created by studio gimmickry rather than a collection of real musicians, as songs like “Industrial Discipline”, “Powershifter” and “Oxidiser” show as bright as the molten metal they seem to want to musically create.
In the end the latest FEAR FACTORY again reminds me of everything I never liked about this band. And for all the increase in melodic heaviness, it still sucks and I’m better off staying away from the factory for good. Oh well.