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Fear Factory is perhaps the most extreme band ever to make a dent in the mainstream. I actually picked up a copy of Obsolete as a prize at my post-prom, of all places, back in 2000. Fast-forward to 2010, and the real Fear Factory's comeback album Mechanize was one of the first album reviews I ever wrote, giving it a 4 out of 5 star rating. You could say I'm a fan.
The Industrialist is a continuation from the core Fear Factory Obsolete/Mechanize industrial groove metal sound that I'm sure you already know, complete with the catchy, clean vocal choruses that let them put their feet in the door of the mainstream. Since there's no innovation or change in direction here, it's pretty easy to set it side by side with the other records in their catalog to see how it stacks up.
The core of the record consists of three absolutely killer tracks: opener "The Industrialist," "New Messiah," and "Dissemble." The latter has a Meshuggah/djent chord or two, but aside from that all you need to know is they are blistering and memorable, just as Fear Factory should be. But outside of those, the record can be extremely tiresome. It almost loses me somewhere between the end of track 4 and the beginning of track 8. And I think I know why.
While it's not that the rest of the record is utterly forgettable or boring, there's something about the soullessness of a drum machine. As I noted in my review of Mechanize, "the drumming is what really makes it work," and there's no actual drummer. The incredible Gene Hoglan was of course not able to record, so instead of waiting for him, or finding a suitable replacement, they programmed it all. It's painfully obvious in the intro to the record, but the quality of the first few songs makes up for that. But after a while, the absence of soul becomes horribly obvious. Some people may argue that a drum machine is acceptable for an industrial metal band, or any band that's supposed to have a mechanical sound. Tell that to Tomas Haake.
The absence of true soul brought in by a flesh-and-blood drummer--even one as precise and apparently mechanical as Hoglan--makes The Industrialist drag in the middle. A few songs overcome the handicap, but overall it's just an OK album, when listened to completely. Yet again, I could barely make it through Streetcleaner, so maybe it's a problem with me. But the way I see it, this is the weakest FF record with Bell and Cazares on board.
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/
With "The Industrialist" released in early June earlier this year we saw Fear Factory go on without the rest of the Mechanize crew. Missing mainly percussionist powerhouse and metal legend Gene Hoglan as well as long-time bass player Byron Stroud. This means Burton and Dino composed and engineered this album all by themselves. And for a back to the basics album like "The Industrialist" these two members are more than enough to convey the music and themes present in the album.
The first song on the album is also the title track. Do you remember the title track on previous album "Mechanize"? If not, I can tell you that this song is similar in structure with an industrial/mechanical sample in the beginning of the song leading into the onslaught of Dino's tight riffs and Burton's screaming. The only difference between these tracks are that Burton has his own little spoken word monolouge dealing with the topic of religion in the very first minute of this song. It doesn't take long before the tight-as-hell rhythm guitar riffage of Dino kicks in with the programmed drum tracks interlocked beneath. The drums have the same overall sound as they did on "Mechanize", but you can clearly tell they are digitalized/synthetic this time around. If you've been missing out on Dino's riffage on former seminal Fear Factory tracks like "Christploitation", "Self-Bias Resistor" or even "Corporate Cloning". You will be pleased to hear that the dissonant and robotic machine-gun style riffage is back as intense as it has always been. Dino plays a few solos here and there on the album just like he did on "Mechanize". But the main melodic components of the album are still his guitar leads and the catchy synths/keyboards of Rhys Fulber. Burton is back in top shape just like he proved on "Mechanize", his screaming is full of rage and passion and this might just be his best harsh vocal performance to date. His clean vocals, although obviously enhanced and altered through the use of protools and other assets. Sound majestic and catchy as hell on tracks like "New Messiah" and "Depraved Mind Murder". He really gets to stretch his melodic vocal lines over Dino's chords on the refrains of songs like these, giving the songs memorability and lasting value. Some fans have complained that Dino and Burton copied and pasted from the compositions of "Mechanize" in both riffs and keyboards/samples. I beg to differ, and although I will admit there are some striking similarities between a few segments on both albums. There are hardly any riffs, vocal melodies or industrial samples that sound straight up plagiarized from past releases.
The concepts and themes of The Industrialist harken back to the days of "Obsolete" and "Demanufacture". The science fiction elements are back in place, just as they were in the good old days of Fear Factory. The lyrics still deal with topics like violence, religion and the hypocrisy of modern society. Albeit in the first person perspective of an automaton attempting to become more like a human being. I think there are some notable highlights on this album like the intense instrumental punishment of the riffs and drum parts of "The Industrialist". The epic, almost serenading chorus of "New Messiah" is another keeper for sure. Check out the syncopated double bass work and interesting lead playing in the refrain of "Depraved Mind Murder". Burton's singing sounds amazing on this track even though he doesn't really deviate from his usual singing style. It works wonders for the band when their skillful performances match their memorable songwriting. There is a heavy as all hell track near the end of the album called "Disassemble". I've always admired how Fear Factory can write mechanical music that is just as heavy as death metal, but doesn't spiral out of control into a cacophonous mess. This track is so damn heavy you feel like you are on a conveyor belt about to become ripped apart and stomped flat by vicious machines wielding razor blades and huge anvils.
There are a few unremarkable and lame moments on "The Industrialist". The single "Recharger" never really grabbed me because I felt the song was too calculated and formulaic. The riffs in the verse of the song are too repetitive and predictable and Burton's melodic lines don't really push any boundaries or remain in your memory for long. The fourth song titled "God Eater" starts off pretty cool with brassy keys and a piano part bringing to mind the intro of "Christploitation". The song gains some momentum in the verse as the downtuned riffage begins with Burton's lyrics shouted over it. Too bad "God Eater" is one or two minutes too long as the repetition really got out of hand and the song just turned into background music.
Overall, this is a good if not great release by Fear Factory. I'm still hoping they can one day make amends with their former band mates Wolbers and Herrera, add them into the line-up once again and tap into the same brilliance present on their masterpiece "Demanufacture". Until then however, the Fear Factory we hear on "The Industrialist" will be more than sufficient.
What compelled me to write this review? Well, fanboys did. Fear Factory’s The Industrialist finally saw the light of the day and opinions were mixed all around the globe, yet I failed to see a really honest review on the internet. Here I’ll try to be objective and neutral in my judgment, so you can get a proper opinion about the record. Yes, yes… fanboys made me do it.
Many things were done right with this album, and many were done wrong also. The more obvious one, and subject of many arguments concerning the record, were the programmed drums. John Sankey helped Dino write the drum tracks and damn he did an impressive job, no doubt about it, yet still after a couple of listens one can’t deny the fact that it makes the album sound a bit fake and plastic. That plus the eight string guitar tone of Dino’s guitar, getting more and more soulless as time passes by. Not that he’s loosing the mojo, not at all, his right hand is in perfect shape and the riff department delivers, as usual. But still, the tone you get out of an eight strings guitar just isn’t the same as a normal one.
Another gripe I have with the album is Burt’s voice. In Mechanize he kept his voice in a low range, avoiding to abuse the high notes, thing that proved to be a good move since he didn’t get to sound annoying throughout the album and something that also helped him on stage, cause let’s be honest, he can barely hold high tones live nowadays. Yet in this album he is all over the place with those vocals and the situation ends up in a mixed bag, sometimes it works, others doesn’t. For example, New Messiah and Depraved Mind Murder were achievements, the contrast between screams and clean vocals works beautifully, plus Burt’s “growls” sound ferocious when he just goes for it. But in songs like Virus of Faith or Difference Engine it didn’t work so well and I feel it ruined a bit the songs.
Letting Rhys to do the samplers on this album proved the band right once again and is one of the stronger points The Industrialist has. The talent of this guy nailing the most metallic parts of the record as well as the atmospheric ones is undeniable and, at this point, he should be considered a part of the band already. Listen to the transition between Disassemble and Religion is Flawed… and see what I mean.
Finishing the album whit a track like Human Augmentation having already Religion is Flawed… wasn’t really what I was expecting for and the remix of Difference Engine reminds me of New Breed (Spoetnik Mix), which isn’t a good thing at all. Pitchshifter’s cover was a good idea tho, here we can see the band sounding almost like how they used to sound in early demos and the album closes on a high note again.
After all, you might think this isn’t a good album since half of this review is criticism, but no, songs like The Industrialist, New Messiah and Depraved Mind Murder shows a solid Fear Factory, yes, I missed Gene or Ray behind the drums but even then what John Sankey did has its charm and is certainly impressive. People tend to compare everything the band does with Demanufacture, Obsolete or Mechanize, yet I think this record lands closer to Digimortal.
I gave Mechanize 90/100 back in the day, The Industrialist doesn’t gets closer to that, neither closer to the score Demanufacture or Obsolete have in my book, but it still stands proudly as a good FF album, a 70/100 would be the right score methinks. No fanboy bullshit, even when I admit it’s my favourite band, just a honest opinion.
It has been over eight years since I last paid attention to anything that was put out under the Fear Factory moniker because they weren’t making any material that was similar to “Demanufacture“, “Obsolete“, or “Soul of a New Machine“. Even when it was announced that Raymond Herrera (drums; Arkaea) and Christian Olde Wolbers (bass, guitars; Arkaea) were departing from the band so Dino Cazares (guitars; Asesino, Divine Heresy, ex-Brujeria) was to make his triumphant return, I still kept Fear Factory as written off. Much like I did with the latest Soulfly album, I am giving these industrial/groove metal giants another chance to try and win me back with their new album, “The Industrialist“.
I was impressed with the way the band used the opening on the first song, ‘The Industrialist’, by incorporating a sound (excluding the filtered voice over) that was reminiscent of something that would come from “In Their Darkened Shrines” by Nile, which transcended into the trademark riffing of Dino. This was the Fear Factory that I had always loved, and I was excited to see this kind of return to form. ‘Recharger’ was no different except for the melodic chorus, which worked very well. After these two songs, I was ready to proclaim that Fear Factory had come to a realization as to what those two circular glands encased in flesh that dangled between their legs were for.
While I could tell the band had definitely regained a lot of its old take-no-prisoners attitude, they still maintained that little bit of melody and experimented with some slower song structures, like ‘God Eater’, a plodding and melodic tune that spans nearly six minutes. Even ‘Depraved Mind Murder’ is a wonderful blend of these two styles that the band is known for. Unfortunately, after these five energetic songs is where “The Industrialist” begins to stumble.
What I mean by this is it seems that tracks like ‘Difference Engine’ and ‘Disassemble’ felt lifeless and hackneyed as soon as they start. These are the types of Fear Factory songs that made me forget their existence in the first place, especially during the chorus of ‘Disassemble’ where Burton sounds like a high school kid trying to sing cleanly during a talent show and doing a miserable job of it. Burton’s voice sounds great on this album, so I have no idea why he took that approach in this particular instance. Not only that, but the opening riff of ‘Virus Of Faith’ is easily the most vicious in all of “The Industrialist“. I was really hoping that the band would be able to capitalize on that genius and keep the energy going strong, but instead they just waste the rest of the song by basically re-writing ‘Slave Labor’ from “Archetype“. However, it had to be the last track, ‘Human Augmentation’ that annoyed me the most.
When I saw it was just over nine minutes long, I figured I would be in for something that was similar to ‘Resurrection’ or ‘Zero Signal’, something ridiculously epic to cap off an album I really enjoyed. Instead what I was met with was “bleep blorp heavy industrial noises we are machines Terminator boop beep“. We get it, you guys are into this whole technological apocalypse stuff, give it a rest already. The only semblance of music that was in ‘Human Augmentation’ was the droning rumble of Matt DeVries bass, which you really needed to pay close attention for because he is buried underneath all of the other needless crap that was packed in. You won’t even get something new for the entire length of the song, either. It’s just an endless loop of the same reoccurring sound effects. This is what the band decides to end “The Industrialist” with? I can’t think of a worse way to end an album such as this. Unless you are Godflesh or Halo, then don’t do this.
I know I may have spent an enormous amount of time saying what I didn’t like about “The Industrialist“, but Fear Factory did a lot of things right this time around that must not be overlooked. You can tell that Dino’s return has breathed some new life into the band and that is all we can hope for. This album is by no means a return to their old days, but there are enough glimmers of hope to get me interested in this band again. Now with the addition of Mike Heller of Malignancy* to be on drums for (hopefully) the next album, I will definitely be keeping my eyes on Fear Factory to see what they will come up with.
Originally written for Metal Blast: http://www.metalblast.net/2012/05/fear-factory-the-industrialist/