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Fear Factory: Version 1.0 - 84%

psychoticnicholai, August 16th, 2016
Written based on this version: 1992, CD, Roadrunner Records

Soul of a New Machine is distinct from the rest of Fear Factory's discography in that this album is death metal with only a slight industrial undercurrent. Soul of a New Machine plays more like an industrialized Napalm Death CD than the groovy, robotic sci-fi industrial metal works that would make up the rest of their career. Dino Cazares goes for riffs suited more to a traditional death metal audience and Burton Bell delivers most of his lines in a monstrous death growl that would make Barney Greenway proud. Soul of a New Machine is distinct as Fear Factory's odd debut as a death metal band.

Soul of a New Machine shows Fear Factory attempting, at an early stage, to establish a unique identity in the climes of early 90s death metal. There are a large number of features to this release that other bands hadn't bothered with at this time. Plenty of the riffs have a crunch to them thanks to some being adapted from techno rhythms, with the band themselves citing Martyr as an example. Most of the album's guitar pieces are strong on impact and go for a sound that revolves around sledge grooves rather than the jackhammer riffing of later material, giving the guitars less of a sound like a robotic drill punching into concrete and more like some giant junkyard monstrosity that crushes other hunks of rusting metal into cubes. The bass has an imposing tone to its crushing licks, adding to the apocalyptic feel made by the guitars. Drum work on this album resembles machine parts beating away to enhance this even further. The vocals are roared forth with the force of a pissed off giant bear and add even more strength to the already beastly and muscular sound here. However, there are times where Bell takes the opposite vocal approach and sings in a faint, ethereal voice resembling a computer generated one. This was a novel thing in death metal, using clean vocals to get lines across in a more ethereal fashion to add to the atmosphere and deliver more feelings of despair and desolation. On top of all of this, Fear Factory writes some really savage songs with great riffs and plenty of crushing rage. Martyr, Arise Above Oppression, Big God/Raped Souls, Crisis, and Scapegoat are particularly imposing standout tracks. Even in early 90s death metal, Soul of a New Machine goes far in looking to distinguish itself.

This is a good album to start with when looking at Fear Factory's early catalog. Fans of death metal and grindcore will find a lot to get out of this with its punishing and apocalyptic soundscape. Soul of a New Machine attacks with all the speed, power, and impact of a terminator invasion. Aside from a few songs focusing on blasting beats and tremolos, as opposed to riffing and pounding, and the bizarre Natividad which is just audio from a junkyard crusher, almost all the songs deliver something of destructive substance. Soul of a New Machine is a great death metal release that shows Fear Factory at their most primitive and forceful.