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"Obsolete" is an intersting peace of industrial material. However, it is neither as good as its predecessor nor as its successor.
The album is many times lyric-driven. This means two things: 1 - Burton C. Bell sings like a fag many times in this album, and 2 - basic riffing. Maybe Dino Cazares was too lazy this time, I don't know. For the most part of the album, the riffs are desperately basic and far from original and are used only as background. True, Dino and Christian play in perfect harmony, but that is really not that hard when most of the music is Nu Metal.
Other than that, the album is technically good. In the many parts where the drums take the lead, they do excellent work. Sometimes it sounds like they are forced to, as if the drummer felt that if he wouldn't do something the songs will suck ass. Raymond Herrera is one of the best drummers I heard, and he is fast, diverse and sharp on this album. However - he's not heavy. The album lacks the feel of Metal. If you're looking for headbanging you won't find it here. maybe if you look real carefully. "Shock" and sometimes "Obsolete" are the only exceptions here.
"Descent" is totally Nu-Metal and "Timelessness" is a semi-A-Capella song, totally boring. I assume it is meant to lyrically complete the story (it is a concept album).
One aspect must be pointed out: The production of "Obsolete", as all of Fear Factory's albums, is flawless. Every instrument is audible in its full sound, the bass is felt well and the drums - oh the drums. Every pound of every drum, cymbal and pedal is felt. The sound is mostly metallic-industrial, yet still possesses some grove. The synthesizer parts which are distantly scattered along the album are always in place, tactfull, and never obscure the other instruments.
Eventually, "Obsolete" is mostly a Nu-Metal/Metalcore album, with metal drumming here and there. My personal favorites: "Shock", "Edgecrusher" and "Obsolete", which are the only good songs here. True, fear factory make excellent Nu-Metal/Metalcore, but they better leave it to other bands and focus on the real metal they are good at.