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Fear Factory Singer Burton C. Bell Deconstructs "The Industrialist"

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Fear Factory releases its eighth studio album “The Industrialist” this week—June 5th, 2012. Although containing different cast members from the days of their defining record “Demanufacture,” “The Industrialist” is what singer Burton C. Bell describes as “Demanufacture”-plus.

As most of our readers know, Gene Hoglan is one of the most sought after drummers in metal. The list of bands he’s drummed with is longer than most paragraphs in this article. It’s for this very reason that Hoglan couldn’t make it out on Fear Factory’s first North American tour promoting “The Industrialist.” Malignancy’s Mike Heller filled in his vacancy. Matt DeVries replaced Byron Stroud as the group’s bassist, which should come as a surprise to Chimaira fans who know him as their guitarist.

Metal Underground.com caught up with Bell on the first stop of the “Noise in the Machine” tour with Shadows Fall in San Antonio. Bell gave us the scoop on the new record, lineup changes (he declined commenting on his relationship with ex-drummer Raymond Herrera) and sharing a bus with Shadows Fall.

Darren Cowan (Rex_84): First of all, I want to get our readers up to speed with Fear Factory’s lineup. Dino Cazares came back in 2008 and you recorded “Mechanize” in 2010. “The Industrialist,” due out June 5, features Matt DeVries on bass.

Burton C. Bell: We got a new drummer and new bass player. Gene (Hoglan) is a great drummer, but he is such a journeyman. He’s such a fantastic drummer that he is in great demand. He does a lot of other bands. We took a lot of time off last year. He had to continue working, so he made previous plans. He just couldn’t do this tour with Fear Factory. He’s with Testament…, so we got Mike Heller. He plays with Malignancy and System Divide. He’s a fantastic drummer. Things are working out really well. We also got Matt DeVries from Chimaira playing bass. We were looking for a bassist. Matt is a guitar player. We didn’t realize he was playing bass. We told him, “Hey man, come on out and play!” He didn’t even have to audition because he’s a guitar player. He knew exactly what we needed. His bass follows the guitar perfectly. Matt just does it perfectly. He’s amazing!

Cowan: Did Sick Drummer Magazine help you find Mike?

Bell: I don’t know how we found him. It was through a couple different sources. The guys in Trivium kind of connected us. Then, we checked him out on You Tube. He has a bunch of You Tube stuff, so we asked him to audition and he got the part.

Cowan: Did you have a lot of drummers audition?

Bell: Yeah, we had several people.

Cowan: His being picked says a lot about his skills.

Bell: Yeah, exactly.

Cowan: The press release for your new album” The Industrialist” likens it to “Demanufacture.” Do you agree with that statement?

Bell: There will never be another “Demanufacture.” However, in a band’s history—not just Fear Factory, there have been a lot of other bands—there is always that record that makes their name like “Raining Blood,” like “Vulgar Display of Power or “Master of Puppets.” There is that one record that really sets the standard for the band. “Demanufacture” is the defining album for Fear Factory. It set the standard. It was a litmus test. If they are liking it to “Demanufacture,” then it is meeting the standard. To me, I wanted to take “Demanufacture” a step forward, so to me, it’s like “Demanufacture”-plus. It’s more of an evolution of the industrial influences on the band. There are a lot more soundscapes.

Dino, Rhys [Fulber] and myself worked as a really tight unit. It was just the three of us writing this record. I think that had a lot to do with it. Rhys was the co-producer; plus, he’s like a silent member of the band. He has been for a long time. We’ve been working for twenty years now, since “Fear is the Mindkiller.” There isn’t a producer out there that knows the band better than Rhys. He toured with us once. He only played a few shows with us. He did a couple of shows in ’99 and a couple of special shows, here and there. We use backing sounds for keyboards now. We actually use an Ipad. With that, we can get all the keyboard sounds. There is no reason to carry around a keyboard anymore. It works perfectly.

Cowan: Logan Mader (Gojira/Divine Heresy) provided additional tracking. Have you worked with him before?

Bell: This was my first time working with Logan. It was a great experience. Dino worked with him on a Divine Heresy record.

Cowan: Was Dino your link to Mader? Did you connect with him through Dino?

Bell: Yes, there was only so much we could do in Rhys’ studio, so we got Logan’s recording studio. We finished recording the album there and did some extra vocal tracking. Plus, he had some great ideas for vocals as well. He had great ideas and is a great producer. He’s a great, amazing engineer. He’s super fast and super creative.

Cowan: Is he in L.A. or San Francisco?

Bell: L.A. He moved out of the bay area years ago and started his own thing.

Cowan: Is that what he does for a living now (I still know him as the second guitar on Machine Head’s debut album “Burn My Eyes)?

Bell: Yes, he’s a producer now. He doesn’t even play much guitar anymore.

Cowan: Does the title reflect a double meaning in terms of the album’s story and your band’s style?

Bell: Yeah, there is a double entendre there for sure. The title definitely influenced the outcome of the album, conceptually and sonically. It defined the direction we wanted to go, for sure. As we were writing, it all started coming together so perfectly. It really set the tone. Story wise, it’s a concept. The Industrialist is an automaton—a robot. It’s becoming an ascentient being. When The Industrialist was created, it was the prodigal creation of all industries, of all things put together. It was the best they could do. However, technology moves on, so its creators want to dissemble all of its models. It became ascentient once it discovered the will to resist. It found the will to fight for survival.

Cowan: Would you say this story is the opposite of “The Terminator: The robots are the good guys and the humans are the villains?

Bell: I don’t really define that. The story is from the perspective of The Industrialist, the machines. However, it’s still a fight of man versus machine. It’s almost a murder plot going on where the machine is trying to find the creator and kill it. Along the way it’s destroying factories and stuff like that—taking down the system.

Cowan: Does the album art (Anthony Clarkson) reflect the title and concept?

Bell: Absolutely, totally. It’s the most extreme metal record that we’ve done in a long time. It’s probably the most Fear Factory record that we’ve done in a long time, too. You’ll hear some new things, but it’s obviously a Fear Factory record. This takes “Mechanize” a step beyond.

Cowan: I love the vocal harmonies.

Bell: Rhys and I worked diligently on it. It was really cool. When I would be at Rhys’ studio, Dino would be with Logan doing guitars. Rhys and I would be at the studio getting parts together like a chorus. For a day we would work on a chorus. We worked on getting the best chorus and verses vocals. He came up with a lot of great ideas.

Cowan: What’s going on with tonight’s set list? How many albums do you have now with “The Industrialist?”

Bell: Geez, this is our eighth full-length record.

Cowan: Eight full-lengths, how do you fit in all of that material?

Bell: We only play songs from six. We don’t play any songs from “Archetype” and “Transgression.” We’re playing “Recharger” tonight, which is off the new record. It’s the new single that Liquid Metal is playing. We play songs off of “Soul of a New Machine,” “Obsolete,” “Digimortal” and “Mechanize.” We’ve figured out a great flow, which makes a really good show.

Cowan: You’ve been doing the Sci-Fi thing for so long that it seems some of these songs fit together. You could play a song from one album that would smoothly blend right into a song from another album.

Bell: Some of our songs fit really well together, both lyrically and sonically, so yeah.

Cowan: Is Fear Factory sharing a bus with Shadows Fall?

Bell: That’s right. Times are tough, man. Gas prices are expensive. For the economy, you just have to save money where you can. I wouldn’t share a bus with a band I don’t like.

Cowan: Have you toured with Shadows Fall?

Bell: Never. We’ve played a couple festivals, here and there, but I’ve never toured with them. I’ve known Jason Bittner since 1994. When we were doing “Demanufacture” up in Albany, we had some time to do some pre-production. He let us use his basement to do pre-production. He was in a band called Stigmata.

Cowan: Is this first day on the “Noise in the Machine” tour?

Bell: Yes, we’re on tour until the end of the month (tour just ended).

Cowan: What are you doing after the tour?

Bell: The day after this tour ends we fly to Europe to play a festival. We just got back from South America. We played two shows there. One of the shows got canceled. The whole festival was canceled because someone took off with all the money.

Cowan: Sometimes that happens at festivals.

Bell: Especially in Brazil.

Rex_84's avatar

An avid metal head for over twenty years, Darren Cowan has written for several metal publications and attended concerts throughout various regions of the U.S.

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16 Comments on "Fear Factory Deconstructs 'The Industrialist'"

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Progressivity_In_All's avatar

Senior Reviewer

Yup, that's a logical storyline for a FF album to take on. I love their concept records.

# Jun 2, 2012 @ 2:38 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
2. Johansbutt writes:

This website consistently does the worst research. All you have to do is go to Wikipedia to know gene isn't on the record.

# Jun 2, 2012 @ 2:53 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
3. Zontar The Munificent writes:


# Jun 2, 2012 @ 4:01 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
4. Ziltoid The Omniscient writes:

Yes, the Gene Hoglan part was really the first thing that got my attention, unfortunately.. I was curious aswell if he played on this record or not, so I right away took a look into the booklet and read that all the drums were programmed by Logan and Dino, doesn't really support the credibility of these articles. :-/

# Jun 2, 2012 @ 6:14 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
5. Matthewsir writes:

Unfotunately the industrialist album is just sh**. after fantastic Mechanize this album is just wannabe artistic storytelling with super lame music. Think about the fact that two last song are a combined outro of instrumental bsh** that no-one, absolutely no-one wants to hear more than once. This leaves a total of 8 songs out of most are just poorly executed reruns of the good songs of old days. My god, this is certainly the worst FF album, even Transgression and Archetype are way better. DO NOT BUY!

# Jun 2, 2012 @ 7:22 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
6. J-Rod240 writes:

This album kicks arse!!! Favorite band of all time!!! Stop hatin all you hosers!

# Jun 2, 2012 @ 7:37 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Rex_84's avatar


7. Rex_84 writes:

Johan, where do I say Hoglan played drums on the album?

# Jun 3, 2012 @ 1:41 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
8. noitsnot writes:

No, it's not "just sh**." If Obsolete is an "A+" and Mechanize is an "A-", this sits at a solid "B" or "B-" save for the last two tracks.

Granted that from a band like FF, who put out Obsolete and Mechanize, one would think that the "God Eater" track would be absolutely crushing, given it's name, but it was a bit of a let-down.

Otherwise, solid album. Not bad, not great. I'll buy it because it's generally worth it and I want to keep up my physical disc collection. I surmise the Gojira album will be better overall, though.

# Jun 3, 2012 @ 9:19 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Cynic's avatar

Senior Reviewer

9. Cynic writes:

Yeah you might want to read the article guys, before you start throwing around the credibility card.

# Jun 3, 2012 @ 7:00 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
brandedcfh420's avatar


10. brandedcfh420 writes:

i just got the album...pretty fkn solid!!!

# Jun 3, 2012 @ 8:35 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
BrianMN's avatar


11. BrianMN writes:

They're streaming the whole thing on AOL right now.
Brian's unofficial mini review that no one really gives a $hit about..........
Title track......brutal insanity.
Recharger....love it.
New Messiah....meh.
God Eater….different….very different…..I like it.
Depraved Mind Murder….I like the middle part, the rest of it is kind of uninspired.
Virus of Faith…that’s better…punch to the face.
Difference Engine…starts out meh but gets really cool in the middle.
Disassemble…hell yeah…
Religion is Flawed…ambient is not FF’s strong suit.
Human Augmentation…another ambient track….ambience can be good, Vildhjarta does ambience like no one else. FF….not so much.

All in all, a solid album….with a one minor critique.
FF has been known for the whole “Man vs. Machine” for a long time now.
It’s about as exciting as listening to Glen Benton scream about Satan.
It’s old, try something new.
Musically the material is strong……….Rhys really and I mean REALLY makes this disc. MVP for sure.
The only track that I don’t care for is New Messiah and it’s really not a bad song, it’s just too “been there, done that”.
The last two songs aren’t even songs and I didn’t like them either.
Still, the good songs are good enough to put this one in my top three.
I’d rank FF…

Soul of a new Machine.
Obsolete……..yeah I know everyone loves this one, it never did anything for me.

Oh, by the way ……..Rhys looks like Conan Obrien lol.
Favorite tracks so far…
God Eater.
Virus of Faith.
Getting mine tomorrow.

# Jun 4, 2012 @ 10:46 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Drum_Junkie's avatar


12. Drum_Junkie writes:

Thanks for the review and link info!

Hey, branded. Related to another thread...
Here's another way to listen before you buy, so you don't waste your hard earned money. lol

# Jun 4, 2012 @ 1:12 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Rex_84's avatar


13. Rex_84 writes:

I haven't heard much of Transgression, but I find it hard to believe it is better than Digimortal. I'm not sure if it's listed in the interview, but we talked about this album and how they felt pressured to make it sound the way it does. Also, the mix got screwed up. Burton said the raw mix was really tough, but was deflated during the final version. This was something I discussed with an engineer friend of mine just last night.

# Jun 4, 2012 @ 2:33 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
BrianMN's avatar


14. BrianMN writes:

Transgression was too rushed.
Digimortal had way too much Christian influence on it.
I'm happy with the new one.
If I read correctly Dino and Burt have a three album contract with each other. Here's hoping they go out on a high note if they don't continue to collaborate.
God only knows in a few years we'll get a revamped version with Ray, Dino......or Burt, Christian...might as well change the name to Soap Opera Factory.
Oh well....I'm happy to celebrate this album anyway.. :)

# Jun 4, 2012 @ 2:46 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
brandedcfh420's avatar


15. brandedcfh420 writes:

DJ: i use a program and get it from others at no cost...no worries bro!!!

# Jun 4, 2012 @ 3:54 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Cynic's avatar

Senior Reviewer

16. Cynic writes:

Nice review there - seeing as I enjoyed "New Messiah", I've got my hopes up now. Been spinning Mechanize lately too, Hoglan is just ridiculous at times.

# Jun 4, 2012 @ 5:46 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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