09 February 2010
by Jon Kerr
Consider yourself a Fear Factory fan? Ok, let me answer your first question: yes, this is the album you’ve been waiting for. Put simply, it’s Fear Factory’s best album since 1998’s Obsolete. Burton C. Bell and Dino Cazares are back in the metal kitchen together, and have served up Mechanize as their return-to-form record: it’s a dish you’re gonna devour eagerly…
You no doubt know the story. Fear Factory carved out a space for themselves in the death metal scene by mixing in clean vocals and using a unique barking style. After a long slog to the top, their second full-length release, Demanufacure, made them a famous name by transending a number of sub-genres. Within six years the dream was starting to fade and the band went into freefall – line-up changes and even a schism into two Fear Factory’s. Now the creative core of the early years have reconciled, and produced this album as a true return to the global metal stage.
Alongside Dino Cazares and Burton C. Bell on the record are former rhythm section of Strapping Young Lad: bassist Byron Stroud and drummer Gene Hoglan (also of Dethklok & Testament fame). The band make a noise which fits somewhere between Demanufacture and Obsolete: some of the melodic precicion of a song like ‘Resurrection’ is present again but the quantity of relentless heaviness makes you realise that these songs will also sit perfectly well alongside tracks like ‘Self Bias Resistor’ in the live arena.
Powershifter by Fear Factory
Opening the record is the title track which bear’s FF’s recogniseable industrial chugg and that famous soar in Bell’s voice which comes in the middle-eighth. ‘Industrial Discipline’, ‘Oxidiser’ and ‘Controlled Demolition’ have all the right ingedients that you are in no doubt as to which band this is. This albums builds on everything these musicians have created before, and pays no mind to the current crop of trend setters.
‘Fear Campaign’ is a brave, grand yet aggressive statement of intent. It’s one of Fear Factory’s most experimental tracks in years and although the track’s long term appeal might be unclear, it sure is great to hear them trying something new. Hoglan is all over the relentlessly heavy ‘Powershifter’, as is Bell’s passion behind the tune’s “Always question authority!” motif. Following immediately on its heels is ‘Christpolitation’ which has has the bulk to flatten out another Central American country.
Rather aptly – watch the new Fear Factory line-up Edgecrushing a South American country last year
By contrast, ‘Designing The Enemy’ goes in a bigger, spacier direction. It builds grippingly and has a coal-black heart, with the time signitures masterfully deployed. The album ends with an epic ballad (as far as Fear Factory would make such a thing) called ‘Final Exit’. You can just imagine a sweaty throng chanting “My soul!!!!” as a rousing show ending.
Fear Factory’s influence in metal is well known – just look at Shadows Fall, for starters – their mix of staccato riffs and jackhammer beats with electronic samples have been copied over and over. Fear Factory’s obsession with some form of mechanical menace has been in place since their first proper album, Soul of a New Machine, and this, their seventh studio effort, continues that thematic tradition. But that doesn’t mean that Fear Factory doen’t have anything new to say. In fact, after a couple of listens you will soon realise that Transgression was just a blip and that this lot are well and truely back.
Sounds like: A career being snatched from the abyss and chased back into the stratosphere by a mechanical menace…
Top Tracks: Powershifter, Christpolitation, Designing The Enemy
Fear Factory – Mechanize tracklisting:
Designing The Enemy