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Fear Factory: The Industrialist

One of the first Metal bands I ever got into was Fear Factory. I’ve been a devoted listener at this point for well over thirteen years. I’ve heard about all their albums, and own just as many.So when one of my favorite groups of all time happens to issue something like Transgression, I tend to get a little pissed off, especially when it seems like it may be the very last thing they do. But, in walks 2010 with Mechanize, easily restoring my faith in the group. About two years later, I check my inbox, and find Candlelight Records has sent a digital review copy my way. Unfortunately it’s not one I could slap on a blank and blast in my car, so I had to wait until I had the proper alone time to give it a spin. I spent the whole day fighting with technology, so what better time to blow off some steam than now and give my first impression of their ninth album?

“The Industrialist” kicks the recording off with a roughly fifty second spoken word introduction and Industrial effects that eventually build up to crashing cymbals, pounding drums with an insanely rich and loud click, the traditional mechanical sounding distorted guitars, and a really, really irritating sound to the audio. It all sounds like it’s in a haze, and it really takes away from the bite. I feel as though my experience is being minimalized with the bass forced into a tiny box, making me feel cramped to the point of claustrophobia. I turn up the volume hoping it’ll help, but it only depletes what bass is there. I’m still banging my head along, as it’s a pretty good song regardless, but the audio really hurts, making me want to break down and just cry. I admit though, the drums sound fantastic, especially that bass kick. That and what Industrial/synth elements are worked in really end up being the only highlights to this pounding track.

“Recharger” helps me notice the horribly washed out cymbals. They sound terribly compressed in the already cramped music, as well as sound like they are from a drum machine at times. It’s sad since this track so heavily relies on them. The chorus doesn’t put so much emphasis on them though, slowing things down and introducing some clean singing that I really get into, but again there are mechanical and technical passages like “The Industrialist” that try to go into Groove territory, but sound too empty with gaps of silence that kill the flow of the music entirely. There are some really catchy moments thanks to the drumming that make me want to open up a pit where I stand, even though I’m the only one, and the progression from there to the chorus is just perfect. But everything mentioned in that sentence is all that really stands out. Other than that, “Recharger” kinda sucks.

“New Messiah” starts off like the Fear Factory we’ve all come to know and expect, and I love it. The mechanical Industrial effects at the start quickly give way to a gradual build with the guitars hammering away with a controlled mid-pace. The bass is deeper, the higher pitch is basically eradicated, kicking me right square in the ass. I’m excited as it continues to pound away with the establishing riffs that  transitions perfectly into a catchy, clean singing chorus with beautiful atmospheric synths in the background that give a slight epic tone, crashing back to earth from the heavenly plateau it builds up to with the crushing, charging material that simply doesn’t let up, and perfectly fitting shouting vocals that show a little more range to them than other songs had. This is the first time I actually feel the blood racing through my system and I’m banging my head right along to the infectious rhythm, pulling back a bit as the breakdown is set up, than fighting the urge to destroy everything in the room once it slams into full effect.

“God Eater” has that deeper tone at play as well, and the chaotic music really works with it, though some of the creepier hooks used can be a little too high in pitch compared to the rest of the music. Overall, the song has a trance-fueled rhythm driven by a solid groove. Out of nowhere it does stop and has some really Industrial sounding effects for drumming that feels a bit out of place, but thanks to the transitions it still works out and doesn’t really kill the flow. It does feel like it goes on a bit too long though, and come the breakdown towards the end, I did start to lose interest, and the rush to my blood stream I had going into this one died down by the four minute mark of this nearly six minute long song.

Finally I’m at “Depraved Mind Murder,” and again I’m not too impressed. The music seems to tread between the lower tones and higher pitch, especially when the intensity builds up. The Groove riffs sound a little more open, empty, and traditional. The chorus finds clean singing again with some melodic hooks, but it’s just not that impressive overall. I really don’t know what to say about it other than the vocals really bring in a good amount of energy, but the music just doesn’t have it.

Overall, I’m really let down so far. The Industrialist has a horrible audio quality to half the music I listened to (literally due to “God Eater” having varied highs and lows), and it really takes away from the bite that they have. Empty moments in the music, generic material at times, and a complete obliteration of the bass guitar’s offerings really left me wanting to cry. The only good song I found was “New Messiah,” but that enthusiasm I gain from it slowly dies with “God Eater.” I’m looking forward to hearing the last five songs of the release, although it’s not for enjoyment. Instead, I’ll be searching for another gold nuggets comparable to the one song that really managed to kick my ass from start to finish.

Article based on digital review material provided by Candlelight Records