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Sadly, Fear Factory has been draw into two camps similar to Sepultura. Back in 2002, vocalist Burton C. Bell quit because of feud with guitarist Dino Cazares. Bassist, Christian Olde Wolbers and drummer, Raymond Herrera decided to fire Cazares so Bell would return. The result, Archetype (2004) and Transgression (2005), both seemed to foreshadow a bright future.
2009, Cazares and Bell reconciled their feud and decided to phase of Wolbers and Herrera. Byron Stroud would remain Fear Factory’s bassist, a role he’s played since Cazares exit. Herrera is replaced by heavy metal scab, Gene Hoglan. Early 2010, this new incantation of Fear Factory released Mechanize.
The album’s strongest moments are in the vocal department. Bell’s screams sound fierce and intimidating, especially for his age. Clean vocals are your typical Fear Factory clean vocals you’d expect. Rhys Fulber also returns as producer and keyboardist, bringing back that classic Terminator atmosphere.
Upon first listen, you might notice Cazares has upgraded to the 8-string guitar. The problem is, the 8 string’s tone sounds hollow, especially when hitting the F# and B strings. This can be heard during the opening riffs of Mechanize and Oxidizer. Note: for further examples of this sound, check out Meshuggah’s Obzen and Ihsahn’s After.
Another flaw of the album, like current Machine Head, Cazares sounds like he wrote Mechanize with the intention of distracting fans of his nu-metal phase ten years ago. By the use of recycled riffs and trendy metalcore leads, Mechanize sounds more like a third Divine Hersey album.
The biggest problem on Mechanize is the drums. Yes, Gene Hoglan is a good drummer and to the untrained ear sounds like Raymond Herrera, but to a long-time Fear Factory fan, you can tell the difference.
Herrera was responsible for pioneering the “stop and go” double bass kick. This technique is one most important aspects of Fear Factory. Herrera doesn’t simply trigger his set to hide mistakes. What makes Herrera’s hits so unique is that they’re precise and still audible. Hoglan’s, drumming on Mechanized sounds like a wall of sound, quite similar to his work in Strapping Young Lad. This may sound good in Strapping, but not Fear Factory.
In conclusion, there are two ways to look at this album. The first, this is quite possibly one of the heaviest Fear Factory albums. Or the second, long-time fans may be confused and alienated by this sudden “Powershift.” In 2004, Archetype made it pretty clear that Dino was considered an “infection” to the machine. In, 2010 that same infection is back minus half of the machine (Wolbers & Herrera). One might say that the soul of this machine has been removed.