On Mechanize, FEAR FACTORY goes back to their roots, playing the influential industrialized metal that people grew to love on Soul Of A New Machine and Demanufacture.
Let’s face it, after Obsolete, FEAR FACTORY were a mess. Some say their cover of Gary Numan’s “Cars” led to their downfall, alienating die-hard fans. They weren’t helped by contract obligations and troublesome managers, turmoil in the band that led vocalist Burton C. Bell to quit in 2002, and the well-publicized fallout between Bell and guitarist Dino Cazares, which led to Cazares’ getting sacked. They carried on with Christian Olde Wolbers switching from bass to guitar and enlisted former STRAPPING YOUNG LAD bassist Byron Stroud, recording Archetype and Transgression to little fanfare.
Then came the announcement in mid-2009 of a new FEAR FACTORY formation with Bell, Stroud, mammoth drummer Gene Hoglan and Cazares. That caused Olde Wolbers and original drummer Raymond Herrera to split, forming ARKAEA and forcing a legal dispute over the FEAR FACTORY name.
With Mechanize, Burton and Cazares have put their differences aside and created something that will restore the faith of the FEAR FACTORY faithful. The band’s chemistry has been rekindled. Obtaining Hoglan doesn’t hurt, either: he’s one of metal’s premier drummers. And Cazares shows he has something to prove. Cazares’ trademark riffs, precise in their execution, mixed with Hoglan’s monstrous drumming give Mechanize a maturity that has been missing since Obsolete.
The title track stays true to FEAR FACTORY’s mechanical precision, with the sound of machines pounding away right from the start, then leading into a blistering riff from Cazares. Throughout the song, Bell mixes melodic vocals and haunting spoken word passages, with the aggressive bark he’s known for. “Powershifter” was featured on YouTube months before the release, and the response and comments were unanimous: FEAR FACTORY were back.
Three standout tracks — “Fear Campaign,” including a Cazares guitar solo, “Christploitation” and “Oxidizer” — take an aggressive approach with touches of classic melody that FEAR FACTORY brilliantly weave into such pummeling songs. “Controlled Demolition” deserves a mention as well. Actually, every song on Mechanize kills; there are no filler tracks here. This is the perfect mix of FEAR FACTORY and STRAPPING YOUNG LAD, maybe to the dismay of some fans, but it seems to work.
Mechanize is highly produced, some might think overproduced. But previous FEAR FACTORY knob-twirler/keyboardist Rhys Fulber has been welcomed back, and it’s an obvious choice. Fans will not be disappointed with Mechanize, and they’ll be reminded of why FEAR FACTORY were one of the most important bands of extreme music at one time. An absolutely necessary purchase.
Label: AFM Records
Written by Kelley Simms