Fear Factory // The Industrialist
Rating: 2.5/5.0 —Atlas (and Steel Druhm) shrugged
Label: Candlelight Records
Websites: fearfactory.com  | myspace.com
Release Dates:  EU: Out now!  US: 06.05.2012

Fear Factory was pretty revolutionary back in their beginnings. Soul of a New Machine had a sound that was fresh, unusual, even disturbing. That heavy, quasi-industrial sound, those staccato riffs and the mix of death vocals with haunting, clean choruses made quite an impression on me and many of my friends. There was something catchy but threatening in the way the album felt and I was drawn back to it again and again for years. Demanufacture was also impressive and took their sound into interesting new spaces. Despite my love of those albums, I totally lost interest in them by the time the ironically titled  Obsolete came around. I just had no further headspace for their style and sound. Reflecting back over the years, I’ve come to believe they were partly to blame for the rise of metalcore and deathcore. I don’t hold it against them though, and I still look back on the early albums fondly. Now we get The Industrialist,  the second album with the original team of Burton C. Bell and Dino Cazares reunited. Before even getting into the music or merits thereof, I want to point out that, for whatever arcane and mysterious reason, drum demigod Gene Hoglan has been replaced with a drum machine. That’s akin to replacing filet mignon with horse shit, and while the reasons behind that decision are unclear, it’s not a positive development by any stretch. Musically, there are no surprises and The Industrialist sounds like old Fear Factory. While that’s a good thing, it’s also boring and has a feeling of “been there, heard that, got the shirt.” It’s isn’t putrid but it isn’t good either, just somewhere in that grey zone of meh.

With the title track, comes the familiar, comforting sound of the Demanufacture era. It could have been slotted right in next to such classics as “Zero Signal” and “New Breed.” It’s nothing new but it’s a ripping, heavy song and Dino and Bell sound as good as always. The same can be said for “Recharger,” “New Messiah” and “Virus of Faith,” which all sport essentially solid (if not overly typical) riffing and fairly catchy, clean choruses by Bell. All remind me why I liked Fear Factory back in the day.

Unfortunately, they can’t keep that level of material going and the rest of The Industrialist suffers a significant drop off. Tracks like “God Eater” and “Different Engine” have good ideas, but get bogged down in too much generic, mechanical riffing and unimpressive shouting. Numbers like “Depraved Mind Murder” and “Dissemble” don’t have as many good ideas,  and “Human Augmentation” is nine minutes of pointless techno/ambient noise, with no metal to be had whatsoever.

In some ways, this feels like an incomplete and rushed affair. More than half the material feels undercooked and incomplete. What really drags things down is the rote, predictable, zero-variation riffing Dino is known for. It’s one of the reasons I ended up losing interest in Fear Factory and the same problem presents itself here. Bell sounds fine at times and his singing is the same as ever, but his death roars often feel watered down, weak and uninspired. Add to that, the dumping of Hoglan for a computer, and things just don’t come together well. While this is a concept album described in the press release as a “futuristic tale of an automaton, striving to survive by fighting for its existence within a desperate world,” the lyrics didn’t enhance my enjoyment of the lackluster songs comprising over half the material. They should have called it I, Borebot.

Parts of The Industrialist are respectable, but I was hoping for more and doubt I’ll be returning to this much in the future, if at all. For hardcore Fear Factory fans, something is better than nothing, so add a point. For the rest of us, it’s probably better to just revisit their early stuff and enjoy the glory days of a sound that really didn’t age well.

 

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  • Can’t say that I agree much this review. I think it is a vital album, not revolutionary by any means but I like that there’s a little more focus on the industrial and mechanical side of things.

    It has also just been uploaded to the Candlelight Bandcamp, so you can check it out for yourself. I added it to Metal Bandcamp here: http://metalbandcamp.com/2012/06/fear-factory-industrialist.html
     

    • What can I say, to me it sounds like the FF machine is rusty and outmoded. A few good songs and too much filler.

  • Streamed this album a couple of times and turned it off.  I think it is easily their worst album.

  • Proves they need Raymond back

  • do you like anything steel druhm?

  •  i need to listen to this album a bit more what i have heard sounded pretty good, looks like there may be a couple filler tracks will need to listen to in total to get feeling for overall album. the last album mechanize was great so dont see how you can say they are outmoded

    • In the review, I admitted I lost interest and bailed on them by the time of Obsolete.

      • hmm obsolete was nearly 14 years ago, go back to your Jorn please :P

        i think this album is just a level under mechanize which was mostly fast paced and less tuneful but was mainly aggressive from start to finish and was a needed shot in the arm for FF(hoglan is awesome too). this album loses steam at the end but god eater for example is something quite new sounding for them. the industrial sound comes to the max and sounded almost godflesh which is not a bad thing.

        i dont think FF can be seen as innovative anymore but to slag off FF for sounding like fear factory is to put every band down that sounds like themselves every album like ac/dc, slayer etc. do we go down that route?

        mechanize was a really good record , this is just a level under as i said, but still points to the fact that FF will be around for a while yet and can still throw us a few surprises.

        • I didn’t slag them for sounding like FF, I loved the stuff that reminded me of their glory days but I also explained I grew tired of Dino’s riffing after 2 album’s of it. Some stuff on here is good, some isn’t, that’s why it got a 2.5. That means it’s OK, but nothing special, which is how this strikes me. And leave Jorn out of this!!!!! :)

  • Unfortunately, I agree with absolutely everything said here.

  • Some day I’m gonna disagree with you, and the fallout will be epic I guess, but it will not be today.  (SHUT UP YOU ALL WE WILL GET NO ROOM)

    I must say that I was cringing since the first 30 seconds of the album thanks to those programmed drums that seemed to be making a point for the destruction of all machines, and I make my life and sustenance with said machines, if that says something. That menacing sound you mention that was part of their first records is just absent here. It sounds tame, safe and, well, obsolete. It feels like an extremely average record to me and hence, the score given has the usual ring of truth. Nice review.

  • J

    Thanks for the quick synopsis.

    Definitely not going to waste an hour of my time on a drum machine.  A drum machine should ACCENT rhythms and not COMPRISE THE FULL RHYTHM, especially in this band.

    I just question if there’s more God bashing stupidity going on on this record that was on the last one.

    They had 5 great albums (not counting remanufacture- that’s an extended EP to me), transgression was where things started to fall off for me.

    I think bringing Dino back- was a mistake.  He’s got skills, a great guitarist.

    But the persona of the band that they project- does kinda suck with him involved these days.

    Oh well, I guess to me the last record makes a Demarcation of Fear Factory’s 3rd inception.

    The first was great
    The 2nd – w/o dino was good
    The 3rd – without christian and raymond…  its the end of the road.

    I guess maybe the new kids in their 20s will like these last 2 records.

    I’m definitely not going to see them live if Dino can’t be cool enough to play stuff off of archetype or transgression.  He is skilled enough to play it.

    If its a ‘business’ as Burt likes to put it- then so be it one- I am not going to purchase products of.

    Happy for the new fans and the ones that still like em.

    But some fans- like me, are definitely, reached their destination to connect with other airline flights in the music world.  

  • haywoodja69

    I like the album more so than some of the older stuff. Its just a matter of opinion. I would give it a 4.0/5.0  Only because im a die hard fearfactory fan. Just wish people wouldnt hate on  them. ITS FEARFACTORY WTF.

  • Hyperbolic Mattress

    Fear Factory is such shit now. They’re a bunch of hypocrites. They’re lyrical themes consist of corporations and machines and greed. They pretty much act like this in real life. They release the same shit every two years and are always changing their line up. Constantly kicking everyone out.