Fear Factory: A name that anyone in the metal scene should be familiar with, as they have been a continued force in metal for over 25 years now. That 25 years has seen the band go through some turbulent times that would have killed most bands dead, but Fear Factory have persevered, and it seems that in some respects the wounds have been healed, but has the soul of the man machine actually improved?
”Genexus”, the band’s ninth studio album is finally here, and is hoping to silence some of the critics that thought they were slacking on previous album ”The Industrialist”. Frontman Burton C Bell describes the title as a hybrid between Genesis and Nexus and showcases man’s future as we move towards a more mechanized state of living through technology, curiously the name is also that of a multi platform computer program that is employed primarily by Windows.
You should know by now what you are getting with Fear Factory. Sharp precision riffs, systematic drumming and lyrics and concepts about human enslavement by machines, and how man is going to become obsolete going forward. It’s been that way throughout their career and very little has changed here.
”Genexus” starts off promisingly with a ‘Terminator’ style opening to ‘Autonomous Combat System’, which shows all of the Fear Factory trademarks, and provides a solid foundation to build off of, however, as the album progresses the cracks begin to show.
The main problem with ”Genexus” is that as an album, there are no real stand out moments and that is an issue as it doesn’t give the listener any incentive to give the album further listens, especially when you consider there are many other albums in the bands catalogue you can give a spin should you need a Fear Factory fix.
The album feels a little flat and soulless, almost robotic in places, its hard to tell which songs have programmed drums on and which are live such is the way they have been produced. Burton C Bell‘s melodic vocals have been autotuned and produced within to an inch of their life to the point where they don’t even sound human at times, which is a timely reminder, especially for those that have seen the band live recently that his voice is not what it used to be. Its a little jarring and can be felt most on the chorus of ‘Soul Hacker’, where the melodic vocals sound particularly wobbly in places – it is an ongoing problem that is felt throughout the album
Rhys Fulber has provided programming and keyboards on the album, yet his contributions also don’t break any new ground and make parts of the album sound more dated than anything else.
5 years ago Fear Factory dropped the monolithic ”Mechanize” and blew everyone away, but it seems like that may have been a fluke as they have now released two albums on that bounce that have failed to live up to all the promise they showed on that album. It’s hard to know where the band goes from here, but with a recent announcement of a ”Demanufacture” album tour, it seems they are looking backwards to better times rather than into the future.
Fear Factory currently run the very real risk of having a tarnished legacy that is punctuated by more moments of squandered talent than ones where they were a true game changing force of nature.
Like all hardware with performance issues, a reset might not be a bad idea.