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Fear Factory has been a heavy metal force to reckon with for many years. They established themselves with Demanufacture, deterred with Digimortal, and redeemed themselves with Archetype. How does a band continue on after doing all that? It’s time for Transgression.
The title of the album says it all. This isn’t the perfect Fear Factory album. Nor is it a massive change in sound. It’s a slight evolution of the Fear Factory sound. It pushes the boundaries of what we all know to be FF without losing the integrity they fought so hard to bring back.
Transgression is still industrialized death metal. The guitars are rhythmatic and crushing with the riffs. This is one of the major differences within Transgression. With Wolbers on guitars now, rather than bass which he played previous to the departure of Dino there is some experimentation going on. There are leads present at various places on Transgression. Leads are something that Fear Factory HASN’T been known for – but even though the leads are nothing too impressive – it is nice to hear some variation in the music. The patented guitar/double-bass drum combo is still present and a massive force to be reckoned with.
Raymond (drums) is spectacular as always on Transgression. His double bass work is something of gods and his use of cymbals and toms gives the album good variety and structure. Bass is powerful and well placed to the front and carries a lot of the rhythm on this album now that the guitars are doing a little lead work.
The flow of the album is a little better than Archetype (even if some of the catchier songs suffer for this) except for the random cover songs that are present. They really throw off the structure of the album and take up space that could have been used for amazing bonus tracks like “My Grave,” or “Empire” to make the first cut. What the hell Fear Factory were doing including a U2 cover is beyond me – not that it’s a bad cover…its pretty decent but it really feels out of place.
Burton C. Bell has one of the most impressive ranges for metal vocalist I have ever heard. He doesn’t go his highest or his most guttural on Transgression – but he does do his variations of soaring notes and barking vocals on this album. He tends to spend a lot of time in his higher range this album – something to help meld with the leads I would think – so this is going to sound like a possibly “softer” album than normal.
Overall, Fear Factory have produced a semi-solid (if one just skips the two cover songs) album to continue their regeneration of accountability in metal. This album does experiment a little but overall it doesn’t shake the overall Fear Factory sounds. Transgression spells it out exactly.
Songs to check out: Transgression, Moment of Impact, Empire.
Upon the release of Fear Factory's latest album "Transgression", a lot of people were thinking "Archetype 2", seeing as it was being released just one year later. Expectations were high, fans were getting restless, and then...
...probably the biggest disappointment ever. Now, I have this album. I'm never getting rid of it. But I do have to say this: By God, this album sucks.
When I say it sucks, I don't mean it completely sucks. There are redeeming factors here. For example, the tracks "Spinal Compression" and "Moment Of Impact" take you back to the good old days where they could be aggressive without being lame. There is nice riffage in these songs, especially on "Moment Of Impact" at the beginning. It has impeccable drumming and excellent guitar work.
Unfortunately, they are the best two songs on the album. Some other tracks are not too bad either, until you hit track 6, "Echo Of My Scream". At over 6 minutes in length, I have never heard this song all the way through. The guitars are so weak, and the vocals are just awful. They usually do softer songs on their albums, but this is ridiculous. It's so lame. Radio friendly. Boring. It wouldn't feel out of place on a James Blunt album. Need I say more?
Speaking of weak guitars, that explains the entire album. Where "Archetype", "Obsolete", and hell, even "Digimortal" had crunchy guitars tuned down to give that extra power to the music, it just doesn't do that anywhere here. They sound soft and half-assed with nu-metal riffs, probably with the exception of the last track, "Moment Of Impact". Why they decided to go down this direction is beyond me, and hopefully they will have learnt from their mistakes.
The drumming is still pretty tight and fits well with the music, but again, where's the power? Raymond certainly knows how to play, but that's not enough if the drums sound weak on the CD.
I could talk about the bass and vocals, but I think you know where I'm going with this.
The whole album is just weak. I can't think of any other words to describe it better. "Moment Of Impact" gives us a glimmer of hope that they may still have that talent they exposed earlier in their careers, but, jeez, hopefully their next release won't be so bad. Everyone knows they can do better. Right?
Best tracks: Spinal Compression, Moment Of Impact
Upon picking up the latest Fear Factory CD Transgression, my hopes were set very high considering how the last record Archetype was such an amazing album from start to finish. It was a total return to form, and possibly their best album yet in my opinion. It also proved without a doubt that Fear Factory were a stronger band without long-time guitarst/songwriter Dino. Well unfortunately, Transgression in comparison was a major disappointment.
As I see it, there are three problems with this album. First off, the songs are in a very strange order. Instead of trying to mix the heavy songs with the more melodic softer songs together for a nice blend, they decided to keep them bunched together seperately for the most part. The first half of the CD features most of the heavier songs, then it gets sort of mellow for the middle, then gets heavy again at the end. Then their standard epic song at the end of every album, in this case being "Echo of My Scream", is located right in the middle. It's a great song but would have made a much better impact at the end where it belongs.
Next we come to the back to back cover songs. The band chose to record a U2 cover of "I Will Follow" and Killing Joke's "Millenium". While both of these songs might be acceptable as B-sides or perhaps bonus tracks at the end of the album, here they are placed side by side with Fear Factory originals. It throws the pace of the album way off and to be honest neither of the songs were are all that good to begin with. The band have recently commented that their record label had forced them to include the U2 cover against their wishes. I wonder what other problems from this album we can blame on them as well?
But I suppose the worst part is that the album just seems rushed as I mentioned before. Some of the riffs, songwriting, and vocal parts on the album are not as strong as they could have been and really could have used more work. While Archetype seemed pretty much flawless, this album leaves a lot to be desired. The band calls this album "more progressive" and "more experimental" in interviews, but I simply call it "inferior to Archetype".
All in all if you're a Fear Factory fan you'll find much of this album a good listen. Some songs are great, some could have used more work, and the cover songs should have never been included. While the album suffers from certain problems it is not a total disaster by any means. As long as you don't expect another Archetype, you won't be too disappointed.
"Archetype," Fear Factory's re-entry into the industry without Cazarres was a smashing success. So, in less than a year, it'd be logical to assume that hot off the excellence of that album, "Transgression" would've looked to be a great album as well, right?
See, this is the part where I think we're being toyed with. How could the same band that wrote "Archetype," "Demanufacture" part two, write this atrocity? It was sayed that this album was going to be experimental, but apparently it was a failed one. On a massive fucking level. Fear Factory were a band that was very close to Nu-Metal to begin with, the only thing that stopped them was a Thrashy sound. Well, they tossed that out the fucking window, and here you have nothing but riffs that sound like rejects from a KoRn album. Listening to the opening of "Contagion." Things don't get any better from there, either, as Fear Factory recess into melodic garbage with "Echo of My Scream." It sounds like a radio single.
Nearly everything about the band's changed. That cold, mechanic feel of Herrera's drumming has vanished, the guitar has gone from crunchy, thrashy riffs to Nu throwaways. Bell's vocals, one of the defining traits of Fear Factory, nowhere near as over the top and magnificent as on their other albums. The writing style has shifted as well. Instead of holding to those drop tuning and drone string melodies, now it's just... radio-ready. It's the only way to describe it.
"Transgression" is a fine example of when progression is a bad thing. What would happen if Krisiun started playing Power Metal? Some bands just need to stick to their guns. Fear Factory stopped and faultered. Hopefully their next album won't be as atrocious.
What’s a polite way to say that your bands album sucks?
Honestly, when an album is THIS bad, I don’t think there is a way to say it politely. I think you just have to come out, full-force, and say it. So having said this, I will now proceed to say this…
Fear Factory, your latest album sucks…
I tried, so desperately tried, to like this album. But when it came down to it, there was no possible way to like what was here. It was totally generic, rehashed to hell, and done by so many other bands. But there is a positive, the music was played well. You can take a bit of solace in that. But as for what nourishment the rest provides us with, it’s quite minimal. It’s like you’re a poor boy, living in a poor neighborhood. Your father works a job at the local factory where he doesn’t make an earnest living. There’s food on your table, and you eat. Then after you’ve eaten, you look at your parents and ask… “Is that it?”
That’s about what listening to this album is like. You long and long to find something positive here, but when it all boils down, there’s really nothing there. Just the bare-bones of what once was.
I will admit that I was a fan of this band a few years ago. I intensely enjoyed “Archetype”, “Demanufacture” and even “Obsolete”. But this latest musical massacre really turned me away from the band. It’s like they take one step forward and please the fans, but then retrace their steps and follow a different path. Maybe they’re struggling again to find the happy medium that they once had? Who knows? It’s like the harder they try, the bigger they flop.
I’ve heard this album referred to as an “experimental” album, but I really don’t know. Experimental albums tend to have different elements and experimentation to them. But this was just watered-down mainstream metal that Slipknot and Mudvayne freaks would gobble up in a second. It was quite second-rate compared to the astonishing Archetype – which honestly had a lot of fans looking twice at this band again. Dare I say it?? Maybe Archetype itself was just a fluke?
Now, loyalists and other newcomers to the metal scene will enjoy this album, I’m sure. What one person thinks is garbage may be beautiful music to someone else. It all depends on one’s preferred listening style. For me, personally, this album fell way short of the expectations that I had. I was almost expecting Archetype Pt II. But I guess that was too much to ask, huh?
Something else that you can look forward to in this album is the amount of industrial elements that they have become known for using. Over the past number of albums, we’ve seen them evolve into an alternative industrial metal band, which can have its moments, especially for someone who enjoys industrial metal, like me. The use of the drums creates a good sound that is immediately distinguishable as Fear Factory, but even this can’t stop the lack of sustenance in the music.
After the first few songs on the album, the direction seems to shift to the worst. It goes from semi-technical, Meshuggah-like riffs, to all out nu-metal garbage. The song that really gets that started is track number 6, Echo Of My Scream. It has to be, quite possibly, one of the worst Fear Factory songs ever made. It’s a very calm song, with not a lot to offer; clean vocals, mellow atmosphere and sub-par music. Nothing special, but it’s the transition to the worst part of the album. The sad thing is, this kind of song has been done over and over by countless nu-metal bands. It’s like the kind of song a nu-metal band would make a video for to get their band noticed. So how can they say it’s experimental when it’s been done many times before?
However, some of the songs here aren’t all that bad, especially in the first 4-5 songs. They’re not all that memorable or enjoyable, but definitely listenable. They don’t redeem the album at all. I don’t think there is anyway to redeem this album. Once you get past the first few songs, you’re met with a following of trash that can easily destroy a metal band’s credibility. And we all know that in metal scene that credibility is a big thing. And just when the band seemed to have built up more metal credibility, they release Transgression.
Now, let’s go a little deeper here for a second. “Transgression” basically means going beyond a certain boundary. Maybe we all should’ve taken notice of this and expected the worst when they transgressed from the metal world into the more mainstream world, where the likes of Slipknot dominate. Maybe this was a sign, a premonition even, that this would’ve happened.
I know I’m doing a lot of ragging on this band, comparing them to nu-metal bands. But the truth of the matter is that’s all this album really is. When you look at the components, and the structure of the music, it’s nothing more than nu-metal. I can swear I’ve heard some of these riffs on this album done by other bands.
So overall, was I pleased with this album? Not even close.
Would I consider it one of the year’s best? No way.
Would I consider it one of the year’s worst? Most definitely. While not being the worst, it’s down on the list.
Can the band recover from this album? Who knows? I guess only time will tell.
But until that happens, we all have to accept the fact that the band, once again, has moved more towards the mainstream – like on their Digimortal days. It’s not going to please a lot of people, but it’s happened… again.
I was quite excited for this release especially after the 2004 release of Archetype, which was a bit more aggressive than Digimortal and Obsolete as it contained faster tempos and aggressive double bass. Fear Factory was quickly back in the studio recording for this 2005 release "Transgression". Never has Fear Factory put out 2 albums in back to back years. It made me wonder if Fear Factory was only concerned about money and corporate America.
Within Transgression the listener will find tempos which are slower with less a darker presence and thus its more upbeat with plenty of melodic parts. This is the ingredients to "new metal", or metal that MTV headbangers ball plays. I am sure Fear Factory will be advertised plenty on MTV, which makes me think that Fear Factory has pretty much followed in the footsteps of Metallica; sellouts and not true to metal. After all isn't metal suppose to be aggressive, raw, and just plain 'darker' sounding? Since when is metal upbeat and happy sounding? Does this mean Green Day is metal too? I don't think so and Fear Factory with this release, has almost gone into the alternative genre. This is a slap in the face of extreme metal and Fear Factory is just not the fierce machine they used to be. It would be quite hard to catorgorize this as 'machine metal'.
The only reason I gave Fear Factory a higher rating on this release is because I do like alternative music (I also enjoy Enya) and they have some solid songs on here, some are even (at times) very Fear Factoryish, but its not the aggressive Fear Factory of the mid 1990s. I could never listen to this and think "wow, this is hard'. Their day has past, and it is sad when bands stop progressing (especially in the realm of metal), although they have made a mark on those who want to progress metal, meaning faster tempos, darker themes, technical patterns, seven string guitars, and just tougher sounds! Raymond Herrera displays his trademark of (triggered) double bass patterns on Transgression, but they are not any more techincal than the work he has done the past 10 years.
Therefore, Transgression is sadly just another release from Fear Factory, as they continue to struggle for the mainstream. If you like mainstream metal, you should purchase this CD, for this is the level its on.
After Archetype hit and I was unbelievably pleased at how raw but mature that album was, I was very eager to get my ears wrapped around Transgression. Unfortunately, the album seems to be just that... a transgression. Did Burton know this before entering said 'acclaimed' studio, or was it a result of the studio? I do not know.
All in all, firing the disk up, the opening track "540.000 Degrees Fahrenheit" is exactly what I hoped to hear, a natural progression of FF's sound. Good and hard with that industrial sound, with a hint of something "-core", but enough to go unnoticed with that track alone.
Then "Transgression" comes up and while a bit more reminiscant of the Soul of a New Machine days, some of the vocals sound displeasingly unmodulated, and the lyrics seem a bit immature like you'd expect from mtv "metal", but still a fine song.
Following with "Spinal Compression", we go back to the Demanufacture era, and adds a touch of death metal to the mix. Still a good FF tune.
"Contagion" sounds a lot like something you'd pick off Obsolete, and throws in FF's idea of "melody". Quite catchy, and has a good base of angst plus hopelessness in its sound, my second favorite track after the opener.
"Empty Vision" hails next and is a great song for what should be the natural evolution of Fear Factory, though the song is a bit bland, and doesn't stand out like the opening track, I still commend it as being a true FF tune.
Now comes the BAD news. After those tracks, I thought there might be a screw up on the disk, because only "Moment of Impact" on the remaining tracks really resembles Fear Factory. "Echoes of my Scream" literally made my jaw drop as it just seemed blasphemous. Sure they usually throw a slower somewhat "melodic" track on their albums, but this track may as well fit on an "easy listening" genre.
"Supernova" and "New Promise" I will continue to refuse to believe were written by Fear Factory as they sound just like some melo-rock you'd get out of pop culture. "I Will Follow" was just an anathema for the band, whether it's a cover song or not. It did not stay true to the band's style in the slightest.
"Millenium" and "Empire" are half-assed efforts that appear to be going the wrong direction at times, but still retain elements of Fear Factory.
Overall, the album has a good startup, with a few "oddities" that are forgivable, but the second half with it's atrocious "transgressions" are significant and impious to the band's sound. Worth buying for a die hard Fear Factory fan, otherwise wait to hear the whole thing before deciding.