Fear Factory

Over the last ten years, Fear Factory has tarnished even the most dedicated fans’ view of the band. Under pressure from Roadrunner, the band bridged a gap between their heavy industrialized sound and the mainstream, causing a downward spiral of events that eventually led to what we all thought was the band’s ultimate demise. Chug-master Dino Cazares left the band due to mounting tension with lead vocalist Burton C. Bell, and pursued Divine Heresy, which was a lackluster copycat of Fear Factory in most fans’ eyes. Though Bell and company kept the motor running with Archetype, 2005’s Transgression was a clusterfuck of an album that sealed the deal for most followers. Well, those days are ancient history and I am ecstatic to say that the machine has returned, and someone has switched it to kill mode.

Dino and Bell are together again, they’ve recruited legendary drummer Gene Hoglan (Death, Dark Angel, Strapping Young Lad, Dethklok, Pitch Black Forecast, and Testament) and boy oh boy does it show! Mechanize is a fierce return to form that will melt your balls and have you shitting blood for weeks. This is, without a doubt, one of the band’s best records and a complete return to what fans have been starving for after all these years. If you’re skeptical, just try on the opener and title track “Mechanize” for size. Surely, someone has died listening to this track. The hole this fucker put in my head has yet to heal and the savageness does not stop on this record.

Hoglan’s drumming is a welcome addition to the ranks – as he is in any band he plays with. Much more organic and relaxed (no triggers), Gene’s skills cannot be denied and he is a standout factor in what makes this record so intense. Though he does an excellent job in recreating that old-school Fear Factory vibe, it is very clear that Gene is not entirely human, and there are few drummers who can match his precision. It’s a devastating performance, to say the least.

Arguably the heaviest and darkest Fear Factory record to date, Mechanize exhibits less nu-metal aspects and steadily dwells in vicious metal antics, even exposing a rarely-heard thrash side of the band (“Fear Campaign,” “Controlled Demolition”).

The band’s first single “Powershifter” is a fist-pumping, adrenaline-fueled anthem – it’s uplifting and holds Burton’s classic, empowering, clean-sung chorus lines. It is reminiscent of songs from Demanufacture and Obsolete. Burton’s voice is a reliable part of the band’s sound and through the years, no matter what musical direction they’ve taken, he has been steadfast. Fear Factory could not be Fear Factory without Burton C. Bell.

The electronic aspects of Fear Factory are present as usual (Front Line Assembly’s Rhys Fulber, who engineered the soundscapes on Demanufacture, returns as well) but they’re not as front and center as other releases. “Christploitation” carries eerie piano sounds and a creepy vibe. The song’s name should be a dead giveaway for the lyrical content. Burton tackles the concept of god and violently screams lines like “Your god cannot save you!” and “Your god is just a lie!” Nothing we haven’t heard before in metal music, yet it’s just as jarring on this track.

“Design the Enemy” has beautiful hypnotic vocal swells intertwined with machine gun chugs, and the record ends on another beautiful yet disturbing song about death, “Final Exit.” Actually, “Final Exit” is one of the album’s better tunes if you’re into the more melodic moments Fear Factory has put forth over the years like “Descent” and “Invisible Wounds.” This is an excellent closer with military-style drumming and clean guitar picking.

Mechanize is exciting because it’s a record that most of us thought would never come. The attitude is back and a new chapter is about to be written for Fear Factory. After a disappointing last few years, the machine has returned to smash your head in. Welcome back Fear Factory.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Shane Wolfensberger
February 1st, 2010


  1. Commented by: emperorjvl

    It’s a good record, but so far only “Christploitation” sticks in my head. I think most praise is slightly exaggerated as songs aren’t THAT strong, rather the album succeeds by comparison. Side note, do you know what “prolific” means??

  2. Commented by: JH DOOM

    Glad I’m not the only one who caught the misuse of the word “prolific”. I’m surprised people care about Fear Factory at this point. In my eyes they were never more than mediocre at best, not to mention largely responsible for nu metal.

  3. Commented by: LongDeadGod

    I agree with most of the review, but i think powershifters chorus is junk, and this album is missing the epic clean vocal/brutal parts of demanufacture and obsolete. there are no tracks that stay in your head for days like pisschrist or zero signal. but overall far better than transgression, and miles ahead of digimortal.

  4. Commented by: Stiffy

    Wow. You guys are a hard sell.

  5. Commented by: gabaghoul

    this blows away Obsolete too, I hated that album (escept for Shock which I thi9nk is one of the best songs they’ve ever written). I’d say this is their second best behind Demanufacture. Nice review Shane, it’s pretty clear you liked it :)

  6. Commented by: geeheeb

    No way those drums are natural. Triggered 100%.

  7. Commented by: groverXIII

    It’s a good record, for a Fear Factory record, but it’s about ten years too late. I just don’t care like I used to.

  8. Commented by: Reignman35

    This album crushes. Buying this the second it hits shelves. Hoglan is a monster and adds a massive touch to the sound.

  9. Commented by: faust666

    No doubt this album is very heavy.. That was expected. What I’d also expected was for it to be memorable and catchy , which except for a couple of parts here and there , it isn’t.

  10. Commented by: Stiffy

    I have these songs in my head all the time. Really don’t understand some of your comments. Everyones got an opinion I assume.

  11. Commented by: appollyonx

    Its good to hear blasts on a Fear Factory album again. This one really brings to mind Demanufacture (unarguably my favorite). But I did get sick of the stop/start sections of almost every song. It always feels like the song gets going and then hits a wall, and then goes again. But these are small gripes as the album does crush everything they’ve done since Demanufacture.

  12. Commented by: faust666

    Stiffy: to each his own my man, to each his own.

    The only parts stuck in my head are the intro to “Christploitation” , the chorus of “Mechanize” and a few bits from “Final Exit”.

  13. Commented by: AARONIUS

    Yeah I think this album is gonna be WAAAAAAY overrated. It’s good, I will say that, and I’d never take away what Gene Hoglan brings to the table, but I think people are praising this one a little too much.

    Overall it isn’t very memorable, and although I’m sure I’ll take all kinds of heat for it, I actually think the new Mnemic album is much better than this one.

    Still, Mechanize is better than FF’s last 3 albums so it’s a buy for me.

  14. Commented by: gabaghoul

    well based on this review the new Mnemic sounds pretty wretched. http://metalreview.com/Reviews/5377/Mnemic-Sons-Of-The-System.aspx

  15. Commented by: Cynicgods

    FF will never reach the lofty heights they set with Soul Of A New Machine and Demanufacture. It’s sad to see a band peak at such an early point in their career and just sort of spiral out of control with money signs flashing in their eyes (fuck you very much, Roadrunner). They went into a more mainstream direction which worked for one album (Obsolete) and then went even further (Digimortal); helping pioneer the nu-metal jumpdafuckup trend in the process -UGH!-. Archetype showed some promise just to be demolished by their absolute worst recorded output, Transgression. Mechanize, well, it’s ok. Sounds like Dino reused his ideas for the next Divine Heresy platter with just the right amount of tightening/death-ening (new word). As for the others, Stroud and Hoglan are flawless performers. Hoglan can play this in his sleep, though. And Burton, hmmmm, I actually thought he was progressing with his involvement in Ascension Of The Watchers. His voice there is a joy to behold. Here, his growls are some of his better work but his cleans (excepting Last Exit, cleans there are quite good)sound way over-processed and his melodies are pedestrian at best. Conclusion? I think you guys are overpraising this. The reason? You feel the need to overpraise Mechanize because you WANT an album comparable to Demanufacture/Soul yet what you actually GOT is just better than everything that came after Obsolete but never reaches that level.

  16. Commented by: Cynicgods

    And don’t get me started on the daytime soap opera these prima donnas were a part of. Loved to see how Burton explained Cyberwaste to Dino after their passionate makeup sex session. :D

  17. Commented by: gabaghoul

    why does everyone like Obsolete? so boring!

  18. Commented by: shane

    My other question would be why do metal fans always hold the bands first albums as the holy grail? LOL! It’s like hearing a broken record. And yes, Obsolete had fucking cars on it people. LOL! I mean come on.

  19. Commented by: faust666

    It also had Shock & Edgecrusher, 2 of their best songs…

  20. Commented by: faust666

    Btw, the new Mnemic is so bad that it’s almost unbearable.

  21. Commented by: shane

    I really liked Mnemic’s first and second album. After the old singer left they seemed to really push the mainstream envelope. Haven’t listened to the new one but I’m sure I know what it sounds like.

  22. Commented by: gabaghoul

    eh, sorry faust666:

    Shock = one of Fear Factory’s best songs. Burton’s scream at the end has yet to be matched on any FF song.

    Edgecrusher = one of their worst tracks and a shitty lead single for Obsolete too. mindless, repetitive, tuneless, lurching jumpdafuckup nu-metal.

  23. Commented by: AARONIUS

    Don’t listen to the review on metalreview.com concerning the new Mnemic album. That dude is full of crap.

    It’s not as good as their first two in my opinion, but it’s better than the Passenger album in my opinion.

    The vocals are much improved and less tasmanian devil sounding to me. Also the songwriting seems more progressive and far more technical than the new Fear Factory.

    Some people just want to write off bands because they take influences from other bands and make them into a more interesting hybrid.

    Sometimes the ignorance is almost unbearable.

  24. Commented by: faust666

    eh, sorry Gabaghoul

    Shock = ditto

    Edgecrusher – Helluva catchy, energetic song, much loved by thousands of FF fans and a great “nu-metal” tune considering it was released when “nu-metal” was rocking the socks off folks who’d previously been listening to Brian fuckin Adams.


  25. Commented by: gordeth

    I threw up in my mouth a little the first time I heard Edgecrusher.

  26. Commented by: Stiffy

    I liked all the bands stuff. They are just one of my favorites, always have been, and part of that is because I grew up on it. But I understand why people give them flack. It’s the veteran band syndrome. However, a brutal release like this I thought would be crowned in all it’s glory. Yet, here we are having this discussion and obviously opinions are all over the place. Strange.

  27. Commented by: LongDeadGod

    I’ve always been a huge fear factory fan, and the the shit this band gets is generally from older metal heads that pre dated fear factory, and the young kids, who think they know everything.
    just the comment that digimortal helped create the whole jumpdafuckup new metal sound is rediculous, it came out near the end of that styles reign of popularity, and lost the band many die hard fans due to its obvious trend following after the bands previous albums had all been innovative or top notch in one aspect or another.
    I’m not saying you had to have listened to something when it first came out, but it seems alot of peoples opinions are made these days by folks on the web without even spending time with an album, or listening with no preconceptions. most opinions are formed before every hearing the first note, which is sad.
    for example, i admidattly was a late comer to alot of black metal, one of my first exposures being emperors ix equilibrium, because my bud told me emperor was totally rad, when i got the disc i thought it was fucking awesome, but if you look back now at old reviews that cd got shit on all over the place, im glad i listened without knowing it sucked, or else i’d be missing out on a favorite in my collection.

  28. Commented by: krustster

    I agree with LongDeadGod…yes, everyone gets to have their own opinion, and I think it’s cool that many people have a favorite FF album, but some of the comments I’ve seen on this site and others are just absurd. Like this, “I think you guys are overpraising this. The reason? You feel the need to overpraise Mechanize because you WANT an album comparable to Demanufacture/Soul yet what you actually GOT is just better than everything that came after Obsolete but never reaches that level.” Give me a break. People are praising it because it’s a good album. Personally, I kept saying Demanufacture was my favorite even though this one was awesome, but recently I went back and realized Mechanize blows it out of the water. Sure, this is just my opinion, but don’t give me some bullshit about how I’m only overpraising it because I’m glad that it isn’t terrible.

    Even dumber are the comments I’ve seen about how “this is a good album, but Fear Factory hasn’t been relevant for years” or whatever. Who fucking cares if a band is “relevant” or not? What defines relevance anyway? Do you want to argue over which 5 bands people are allowed to listen to in 2010 or would you rather just enjoy some fucking music?

  29. Commented by: Shane

    ^ Thats how I feel. People seem to be over thinking this. Take it for what it is.

  30. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Krustster: I think this album is getting a free pass from everyone that actually likes it because it’s much better than their shitty nu metal days. I’m all for experimentation and trying out new sounds but I’m always going to call bullshit when I see it. “Back to our roots” after our experiment in selling out didn’t work. Fuck that. With that said, Mechanize is pretty good, even with all it’s faults. Just my opinion, no need to blow things out of proportion. And on that note, I’m off to keep up with my Sentenced binge, an ever-changing band that always had something interesting to say musically. Cheers.

  31. Commented by: gabaghoul

    Sentenced, aka The Kevin Sorbo Band

  32. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Looks like Peter Steele and TV Hercules decided to mix their tingly parts. :D

  33. Commented by: yoga242

    This album is killer period…If you’re a fan of Fear Factory you should adore this album & if you’re not a fan this album wont change your mind…

    btw: the new Mnemic album isnt bad at all & there are some really good songs lurking on that album…fuck all those naysayers!

  34. Commented by: faust666

    No, no.. it’s not bad.. it’s horrendous.

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