Fear Factory_DemanufactureDemanufacture got me through my senior year of high school. 1995 was an absolutely shit year personally, but it was incredible when it came to music. As a burgeoning teen metalhead, I was stuck between three worlds: the moshability of hardcore, the relentless speed and savagery of death metal, and the morose, downtrodden danciness of goth music. Even my fashion sense reflected that (scraggly but long goatee, bald head, Carcass‘s Heartwork t-shirt, leather pants). So when Fear Factory released Demanufacture, a concept album based on a man’s struggle against a machine-operated government, I didn’t expect to be blown away as much as I was as an impressionable youth back then. Needless to say, it’s held up remarkably well, and is still heralded as an absolute classic in the world of metal.

From the opening mechanical noises, Raymond Herrera’s laser-precise double-bass, and Dino Cazare’s vice-grip tight riffing, the title track barrels forth relentlessly with equal parts thrash precision and steamroller-level heaviness. But immediately, you realize Burton C. Bell’s vocal game changed significantly from their 1992 debut, Soul of a New Machine. Gone are the goofy death growls of “WHAT… A THOUGHT… WAS LAAAAAAARF…” (thank you, Tyranny of Tradition‘s Facebook Page, because I can never unhear that now), Bell adopted a more hardcore approach, and it fits without being any less visceral. When he spits out “I’ve got no more goddamn regrets/I’ve got no more goddamn respect,” there’s no dispute that he’s out for blood.

The entire album just bleeds rage and dissidence. Newcomer Christian Olde Wolbers did a damn good job laying down the back end on bass, as his presence is felt everywhere on here, matching perfectly with both Herrera’s frenetic double-bass attack and Cazare’s surgically precise riffs. “Replica” and “New Breed,” two of the slower numbers, were given added heft due to his playing. Still, Bell’s Good Robocop/Bad Robocop vocals elevated this album to levels unattainable to most mere mortals, including Fear Factory themselves. His Gothic Fields of the Nephilim-inspired cleans were dreamlike yet commanding, especially the closing half of “Pisschrist,” when he sounds like an angel assessing the damage left on our ravaged earth. But it’s their lynch-pin moment, the utterly uncompromising “Self-Bias Resistor,” where everything falls into place beautifully. The throttling drums, the machine-gun fire of Cazares and Wolbers, and the utterly trance-like, rage-inducing clean choral harmony at the end… face it, if you ain’t moving, you are dead. This was my anthem for many, many years and with good reason. It holds up so damn well, it’s downright remarkable.

Fear Factory_1995

The Rhys Fulber (Frontline AssemblyDelerium) production was just as cold and calculating as the music behind it. Mechanical, unforgiving, and quite inhuman, Demanufacture was the perfect marriage of hardcore rage, metallic savagery, and Gothic beauty. The album art reflected the dying of humanity against such an unfeeling mechanized regime, right down the the font used for the lyrics and album notes. Hell, even the band photo was incredibly bad-ass. I wanted to be Burton C. Bell when I was nineteen!

So folks, Fear Factory may not have reached the heights they deserved with the release of Demanufacture, but they left quite the impressive steel-toed boot print in the history of our favorite music genre. And while bands like Anaal Nathrakh have taken the unfeeling mechanical rage and dual vocal savagery to levels beyond human comprehension, Demanufacture no less deserves its spot in our hallowed Yer Metal is Olde! halls. Brutal, essential, influential, and life-affirming.

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  • AndySynn

    Well-deserved in my book. Most definitely a classic album.

    It’s unfortunate that they’ve come nowhere near it since (and I say this as a fan of several of their albums after this one) and that they’re absolutely terrible live these days (to the extent of being perhaps the only band I’ve ever walked out on, due to the fact that they were butchering the material from this albums SO badly).

    • Excentric_13073

      THANK YOU. Only band I’ve ever walked out on as well! I’m glad I’m not the only one.

      • You actually left the hall?

        • Excentric_13073

          Yup. They were headlining that night, and I actually felt insulted by the performance. Especially following the destruction that Hate Eternal layed out just before them. They seemed like they regretted being there, and were phoning it in. Lots of bro posturing from the Bell. The final straw was the crowd, who seemed made up of a lot of bros, and even dudes in button up shirts drinking mixers. I guess I’m just too “Trve”.

          • Trve story.

          • AndySynn

            They were headlining when I saw them too, and Burton’s vocals were just SO terrible (as were Dino’s woeful attempts at backing singing) that their sound-guy was working triple-time to try to paper over all the cracks.

            I happened to be standing right by the sound booth and was able to watch him leaping around every time a clean chorus came along in order to turn the vocals up quickly and layer on a tonne of reverb… which meant of course that every chorus STARTED quiet and out of tune, then got “fixed” (to an extent) in the mix, but then whatever came after the clean chorus came in SUPER-LOUD and covered in excessive reverb, before the sound-guy quickly pulled it all back again.

            That guy REALLY worked for his money that night.

          • Brian

            I’ll be seeing them live in 3 weeks for the first time. This post is NOT making me keen! :*(

          • Excentric_13073

            Well, try to go with an open mind, and see what you think for yourself. Who knows, maybe when we saw them they were having an “off” night?

          • Johan

            Oh man, there’s a lot of clean chourses scattered about as well, poor guy.

            Out of curiosity, why did he have to turn the vocals up if they were awful, why not reverb the shit out of them at low-to moderate volume so they’d slip by unnoticed?

        • Vance McCumber

          Wimps and Posers… leave the hall!!!!

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      “Obsolete” was a worthy follow-up to “Demanufacture”. Not on the same level, but maybe one or two steps behind it.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    As a man with no nostalgic emotional connection to Fear Factory, I can attest to the awesomeness of this record and arguably even better follow-up, Obsolete. They both aged fantastically, too!

    Crushing stuff.

  • RuySan

    They spent the rest of their career more or less aping this album, but never surpassing it. It’s true that there was a more nu-metal influence (which was by bands they influenced in the first place) right after (obsolete and digimortal), and newer albums are heavier. But none felt as significant as this one.

    Mechanize is pretty good though.

    • Ted Nü-Djent ™

      Mechanize restored my faith. Then th enext album came out…

  • madhare

    FF is one of those bands that I never got. Intellectually, I understand the importance of this album. But emotionally it doesn’t move me. (So I guess I’m dead.) It sounds a bit too… American to me.

    • I think it’s the pop sensibilities. The embedded track’s clean chorus sounds like offspring or nirvana or something just randomly jammed into a death metal song. Doesn’t work for me.

      • Anon a mouse

        A lot of there stuff has cleans in it. I love it. But I am also aware that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

        • Rasmus Steinke

          For me their clean choruses were the worst. Not because I don’t like some Pop-appeal, but because Fear Factory just couldn’t write decent melodies.

          • I like the cleans, but Bell sounds like a walrus with a stomachache when he tries to do them live.

      • madhare

        It’s a good questions why exactly I find something like this “American”. I think it’s largely in the vocals, but not just the cleans. And no, I’m not talking pronunciation. But something in the attitude or something. Something that comes across through the intonation or something. (We need a linguist here! :D )

        But yeah, come to think of it, those cleans in the embedded track sound quite sort of college-band-ish. But also the growls are… It’s hard to describe it exactly.

        The growls are rage shouted on a concrete & asphalt wasteland in the backlot of a K-mart with neon-signs advertising Budweiser in the distance. Or something. It’s definitely different from rage shouted in a frozen forest, on a misty moor, or in some ancient ruins.

  • DrChocolate

    This album was the soundtrack for my last year or so of High School and my freshman year of college. I still get nostalgia’d up listening to it, but not in a wistful, longing way. In a weird way it makes me feel that youthful piss-and-vinegar-I-can-conquer-the-world feeling. Midlife crisis metal? Regardless, I count this as one of my all time favorites, and for pure precision and fury it still throttles most of the competition.

    And I feel that goth-hardcore-metal kid confusion, hard. Cut off camo shorts, AFI hoodie over a Beneath the Remains shirt, Doc Martens, studded belt, it just keeps going…..

    • Grymm

      I had YOUR look as well, sans nail polish and with a Fear Factory hoodie.

      I was basically a walking, talking Blue Grape Merchandising catalog. :-P

      • DrChocolate

        Blue Grape. I snort laughed at that, loudly. I haven’t thought about that in forever. I almost had the whole Century Media mail order catalogue memorized too – I paid for my Nevermore long sleeve with a money order. My metal IS old.

        • Grymm

          OMG. I remember buying stuff through CM via money order! I bought a whole ton of imports through them.

          I still wish I bought a pair of Sepultura cargo shorts from Blue Grape. Those were *tight*.

  • 1) Desert island album.
    2) Top 100 of all time albums.
    3) College inspiration at Coney Island High.

  • Jeff Kent

    I saw them open for Maiden on the X Factor tour. About halfway through their set, my wife says, “I think they already played this one.”

  • 6810

    That “Raymond Herrera’s laser-precise double-bass” is actually Rhys Fulber’s production. Drum tracks for this record were lost and Herrera’s drums couldn’t be re-recorded in time/on budget so Fulber programmed them. That’s why there are virtually no toms etc throughout the record.

    That signature sound was largely an accident. There are interviews with Herrera and other members of the band out there.

    • AndySynn

      I still contend that “Archetype” is actually their second best album. Least amount of filler, AND it’s where Raymond clearly had neck-surgery, allowing him to look upwards and realise that… “my god, there are more than just snare and kick drums attached to my kit… I can… I can play fills!”

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    I don’t like to take anyone’s stattements at face value and I like to check the facts. So after I read that 1995 was incredible when it came to music I went on good old Metal Archives to check. What came out in 1995?

    Fear Factory – “Demanufacture”
    Sentenced – “Amok”
    Blind Guardian – “Imaginations From The Other Side”
    Dark Tranquillity – “The Gallery”
    Dissection – “Storm Of The Light’s Bane”
    At The Gates – “Slaughter Of The Soul”
    Six Feet Under – “Haunted”
    Sinister – “Hate”
    Paradise Lost – “Draconian Times”
    My Dying Bride – “The Angel and The Dark River”
    Immortal – “Battles In The North”
    Morbid Angel – “Domination”
    Deicide – “Once Upon The Cross”
    Moonspell – “Wolfheart”
    Death – “Symbolic”

    And that is just choosing my favorites! Fact checked, 1995 was incredible when it came to music indeed.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      I wonder if 2015 will be remembered like this?

      • André Snyde Lopes

        You’ll find out if you can manage to stay alive for 20 more years.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          I just want someone to tell me now!

          • André Snyde Lopes

            You asked for it: this year will be remembered for the groundbreaking worldwide release of Babymetal’s full-length debut.

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            CHOCOLATTE!

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            You´re asking for some crappy caption and a picture of Marty McFly, aren´t you?

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            The Biff character would be a fear factory fan for sure ;)

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            I don´t know… Biff seems like a Hatebreed kind of guy.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Only time will tell. We’ll have to check 20 years from now to find out if the fresh releases we enjoy today stand the test of time.

    • sir_c

      First i thought about Disembowelment but that was 1993. Could very well be i bought the cd in 95.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Awesome album. All-time Metal classic. This might be the only Metal album I call a classic that doesn´t feature a single guitar solo.

  • Flyingguillotine

    This is one of the best metal albums ever made.

  • Eryops

    1995? Man, I was just out of high school, yet it feels like this album was there with me. I loved this, and Obsolete even more (I never thought of this as / realized this was a concept album).

    I also agree with the comments on seeing them live. The one time I saw them, they were sandwiched between Children of Bodom and Lamb of God. CoB were awesome, I tolerated the really moodless FF set, and walked out on LoG (have always hated them). During FF’s set, they blew a fuse, and after it came back on, they started the same song they were almost finished with all over again (which song it was is lost in memory, but it was a boring slow one). No crowd interaction, barely even acknowledgement that the crowd was there. The only other band I’ve seen act like that was Mastodon.

    • Thatguy

      Love the music Mastodon records but live they are just awful – no stage presence whatsoever.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        No way man Troy is a great front man he is like a wild viking. They just don’t do the talking between songs thing.

      • Just saw them open for Judas Priest and they were, in fact, terrible.

  • Luke_22

    Recently dusted this off after a long time and it still packs such a powerful punch. A very nostalgic, ahead of its time album that was one of the early gateway albums for me getting into heavier, or more “extreme” fare.

  • Rich

    A great album back in the day…sounds terribly dated to these ears though. My favourite track was the the Agnostic Front cover on the digipak. That still stands up.

  • Ben Timpson

    Incredible!! Thanks for giving this record props!

  • Wilhelm

    I’ve always liked Fear Factory; I saw them on this tour opening up for Blaze Maiden, and I hate to say it but they might have been the better live band, young and full of energy and some really killer songs. It’s kind of a shame they painted themselves into a corner but that inevitably happens with most bands. Demanufacture is still pretty cool; it’s an album I’ll put on for Nostalgia but it still sounds kinda fresh in a way.

  • eloli

    Demanufacture was my album of the year in 1996. Yeah, I know, technically, it was released in 1995, but in the pre Internet days, albums had a much longer shelf life from late adopters.
    Great article, and lots of great memories from my first year as a post college minimum wage earning working stiff, maybe that’s why this album struck such a chord with me.

  • Johan

    I’m guessing I’m one of the few people in the world who thinks the remix album (Remanufacture) is actually the most interesting FF album. As a kid I heard Replica on MTV, bought Obsolete, scratched my head for a bit and then got Remanufacture on a whim and to my surprise had it replace Obsolete in my CD-changer.

    While FF always had very obvious strong points, there was an equal amount of cheese and face-palm about them too. The angsty lyrics, the horrible cleans, the formulaic staccato drum-guitar gimmick…

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Remanufare… “Back in the day” one of my friends bought it as a recomendation from the record store guy. Next week the record store guy had to accept the return of the disc and apologize for recomending it.

  • Love the hell out of this album.
    Actually heard it first (sans vocals) on Carmageddon, a lovely little video game where you squash pedestrians and crash into other automobiles.

  • Norfair Legend

    This is one of the most perfect metal albums ever recorded. Sounds just as great today as it did back then, they truly did something special here and will always remain in my top ten of all time.

  • Mr T

    My stereo is olde. 1995 was one hell of a year. I can still remember listening to this and the monumental Destroy Erase Improve on my Wharfedales. The amp died an untimely death but I am listeing to this youtube version on the same speakers.

  • I like this album for the first four songs and maybe “Pisschrist.” There is some annoying stuff on there for sure, like I personally can’t stand “Body Hammer” and the song where he belches “I AM A CREAHHH MINAL” like 100x. I will echo the sentiment of seeing them live, they were HIGHLY disappointing when I saw them on that tour.

  • lennymccall

    God I was SUCH a fan BITD. Nowadays…not so much. But that’s on me not them. I did give the new one a quick listen and, nope not for me.

  • Richard

    What a time! This album was a work of art, conceptually and in every way imaginable. I like to think if there was a soundtrack to H.R. Geiger’s work this would be it. Geiger Metal? m/ It’s too bad it’s the first and last of their stuff I like, but that might also be what makes it that much more special.
    Damn I miss this time in music.