Fear Factory

The Industrialist

The Industrialist

Reviewed By Simon Milburn
Published 14 September, 2012
Link: Official Website

You know what to expect

Let’s be honest. Fear Factory’s best work is their first three albums. From the guttural, darker beginnings of Soul of a New Machine to the relentless and near faultless Demanufacture to the more polished, more refined yet still heavy Obsolete, this band has always been about front-man Burton C. Bell’s trade mark growl/clean/growl/clean vocals and guitarist Dino Cazares’ destructive riffs. Sure, Raymond Herrera’s militantly precise drumming became a part of the sound and style that defined Fear Factory over those early releases, but let’s be honest – have they done anything since Obsolete that even comes close to it or its predecessors?

History shows that without Cazares on guitar, the quality of Fear Factory’s output just doesn’t cut it. Former bassist Christian Olde-Wolbers’ transition to guitar was seamless some months after the band’s well publicised implosion in March 2002 and his performance was adequate. Some songs stood strong, others generic and we won’t even talk about the abortion that was 2005’s Transgression. After the well publicised, seemingly irreconcilable split which soon revealed that Cazares was the reason behind Bell’s departure in 2005, Bell surprised the hell out of the metal world by reconciling with Cazares in 2009. The duo would be backed by former Strapping Young Lad bassist Byron Stroud and drummer extraordinaire Gene Hoglan and Fear Factory returned triumphantly with Mechanize. Now, two and a half years on, the band return with album number eight, titled The Industrialist.

By now though, we all know what to expect from Fear Factory, and Bell and Cazares give their fans exactly that. Lyrically, Bell tackles the same old thing – man versus machine and variations on that theme and once the heavy-handed intro to the title track which kicks things off, it’s very much locked into that Fear Factory style that fans know and love. From here on in, the album is stock Fear Factory, simplistically speaking. But to put a finer spin on things, if anything, The Industrialist feels more like what would have been a solid follow up to Obsolete. It feels more in step with that era of the band’s discography. That’s not to say it’s out of step with Mechanize but the vibe and songs that make up The Industrialist would make for a more than worthy follow up to Obsolete.

Thankfully there’s a couple of surprises in store across The Industrialist. Some more industrial influences appear on tracks such as God Eater and of course long time collaborator Rhys Fulbar’s input is obvious throughout. The standard edition finishes up with Human Augmentation which is a noisescape piece that really isn’t the grandest of finales after the gentle sounds of Religion is Flawed Because Man is Flawed. The deluxe version contains two bonus tracks with the pick of the pair easily being the amazing Timelessness II – a throwback to the classic Timelessness which first appeared on Obsolete. This time though, it’s Bell’s haunting vocals over simple, clean strumming guitars – a much more fitting way to wrap up the album.

The Industrialist is just what you should expect from Fear Factory. Eight albums in and there’s no real variation from their well established formula on the whole. In this instance, that’s ok because it’s a solid album for the most part. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s Fear Factory doing what they do and doing it well. Fans will love it and so they should. It’s pretty damned good.

Riot! Entertainment/Sony Music Australia

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