on 7 January 2010
Who would of thought it? With the band imploding and splitting up after 'Digimortal', only to reform minus guitarist Dino Cazares and release the excellent 'Archetype' and the under-rated 'Transgression', it seemed unlikely that Dino Cazares appearing again on a Fear Factory record. But due to differences with the more or less original three members; vocalist Burton C. Bell, Guitarist Christian Olde Wolbers and Drummer Raymond Herrera (Bassist Byron Stroud quietly stood by the sidelines), Fear Factory imploded again, only for Burton and Dino to resolve their differences and decide to form Fear Factory again, minus Christian and Raymond. Cue legal wranglings etc. You can search over the internet for more on this, as this is a review of an album, not a history lesson.
In short, 'Mechanize' has to be a) One of the contenders for Metal album of the year and b) An answer to the critics. With Byron Stroud back on bass duties, and legendary drummer Gene Hoglan filling the void (of Strapping Young Lad fame, so he is more than up to the task), many fans and critics alike were kind of expecting a sub standard album. It is definitely, NOT the case!
Opener and title track 'Mechanize' opens up with a brooding Terminator inspired intro thanks to some synths by Producer Rhys Fulber (unofficial 5th member, not seen since 'Obsolete') and then all hell breaks loose. People who said Fear Factory would be nothing without Raymond Herrera will have their cake and eat it within 30 seconds, the double bass assault present and correct, and it seems faster (if thats possible).
'Industrial Campaign' follows next, and while sounding nothing like it, structurally, it is in the same vein as 'Self Bias Resistor' as seen on the magnus opus, 'Demanufacture', with Burton switching from brutal to melodic singing (still the original and best). It is definitely going to please fans. Very heavy, yet brutally melodic as well. Two songs in, all is so far, amazing.
Next up, is 'Fear Campaign' and they certainly do not seem like letting up. Again, a brooding synth style intro, then Burton lets out an almighty scream an its on! Everything goes death metal, with Rhys Fulber doing his synths on the background, although not saturating the song at all. In fact, it enhances it. This feels like a proper Fear Factory song, and the term 'cyber metal' will be used once again for this band. Vocals switch over to melodic, and Dino Cazares does an awesome job of the guitars - he has been missed!
First single 'Powershifter' is next. If you haven't this by now, then why not? Get it bought! Brilliant and heavy, it showcases everything about the new Fear Factory. Gene's drumming is machine-gun like, entwinded with Dino's and Byron's guitars. Burton sounds very angry on this song ('You want war/You got war, More than you/Bargained for'!) his singing is sublime here. He goes from growl, to a gravel vocal and then to his soaring melodic vocals. Superb, utterly superb.
Song 5 - 'Christplotation'. This is a contender for best song on the album. The haunting intro and outro, the sheer heavyness of this song, it is brutal. It doesn't let up for a second. A proper headbanging song, and you can tell everyone is going for it on this song. Has to be heard to be believed.
'Oxidizer' follows (brilliant title) and sounds like it could of been off 'Digimortal' at first, but then it sounds like it could be off 'Obsolete' - its incorporates their previous sound perfectly. Vocals at the end are brilliant.
'Controlled Demolition' is brilliant. It starts of with a riff similar to the end of one of their rare instrumental tracks 'Machine Debaser'. Great use of Burton's vocals and synths. Dino, Byron and Gene all sound in harmony on this one. class.
Song 'Designing the Enemy' starts off very melodic, with Burton using soaring vocals at first. Its over a minute before you get into the vicious part of the song, and it is almost similar in structure (but not sounding at all) like 'Pisschrist' off 'Demanufacture' and because it is near the end of the album, you get a sense that they were trying to get a similar sort of feel with this album. My god it works!
Then we have 90 secs of instrumental called 'Metallic Division'. This sounds very machine like (and thats what they want to achieve) and should be used for the next Terminator movie somewhere.
Then we come to the final song, which needs a lot of recognition. 'Final Exit' is lyrically, based on a book of the same name by Derek Humphry. It is about Euthanasia and Self Deliverance. At over 8 mins long, it is again, similar to 'A Therapy for Pain' off 'Demanufacture' and a brilliant album closer. But this is a proper song, and is beautifully arranged. In all my years of listening to music I have never been so moved by a song, especially one that deals with this sort of subject. It has a very heavy middle bridge to the song that erupts into a beautiful myriad of musical genius. The song ends with about 3 mins of ambience, but I urge you to listen to it, especially as you can hear someone taking what sounds like their last breath at the close of the song.........an incredible bit of musicianship from this band.
What more can I say about this album? Burton sounds vicious, melodic, everything.He has not sounded this good since 'Obsolete', in fact, I would say he sounds the best he ever has in Fear Factory, he sounds refreshed, invigourated. The main resurgence for this band, however, has to come from returning guitarist Dino Cazares. Whereas Fear Factory's last two albums were great, and you could argue that they didn't miss him at all, here it is obvious that he is the soul of this machine. All the trademarks have returned, or should that be improved upon. Bassist Byron Stroud and drummer Gene Hoglan perform their duties brilliantly, and more than answer the question that will former players Christan Olde Wolbers and Raymond Herrera be missed. In short, no.
A special mention should also go out to their record label, Candlelight records. Most labels would have said Fear Factory were has beens, basking in their former glory (in fact, I bet they did). How wrong they are!
So there you have it. A truly exceptional record. I don't think anyone saw this coming, including me. They have truly upped their game and made Fear Factory relevant again in the metal genre. But the big question everyone wants to know is this - is it better than 'Demanufacture'? Personally, YES! But you need to find that out for yourself. A masterpiece.