Fear Factory - "Aggression Continuum" (CD)
"Aggression Continuum" track listing:
3. Aggression Continuum
5. Fuel Injected Suicide Machine
7. Manufactured Hope
8. Cognitive Dissonance
10. End Of Line
Reviewed by Diamond Oz on July 13, 2021
It's been six years since the last Fear Factory album, "Genexus" and whatever happens, this latest effort, "Aggression Continuum," will go down as an important one for the band. Chiefly because this is the last Fear Factory album to feature frontman Burton C. Bell on vocals. As this era of such a storied and beloved band comes to a close, how does "Aggression Continuum" serve as a farewell to such a powerful frontman? The answer may surprise you.
Fans of the band will be reassured to know that more or less everything they love about Fear Factory is present and accounted for on their tenth studio album. In fact, a number of songs on offer sound like they could have fit in very well with the band's nineties heyday releases, particularly the title track and "Purity." There's also plenty of spoken word dialogue, which adds to the science fiction atmosphere for which Fear Factory is renowned, most prominent on the opening number, "Recode" and "Collapse."
Fortunately, the album doesn't just boast some cool elements and interesting bells and whistles, it displays some really good songs too, especially the final track, "End Of Line." This epic but exciting closer may very well be one of the best Fear Factory songs in quite some time, offering a fast-paced, cyberpunk fuelled staple that will sound amazing live. Other songs of note include "Manufactured Hope" and "Cognitive Dissonance," which both make great use of Bell's clean vocals and perfectly blend industrial and thrash metal.
Though it contains some excellent examples of what made Fear Factory such a popular band, it should be noted that it's not without its faults. Despite the achievements of "Manufactured Hope" and "Cognitive Dissonance," several songs don't mesh the clean and harsh vocals as well as they could, leading to some sections feeling a little weak, or unnecessary; something that troubles the first two songs. It could be argued too that while "Collapse" and "Monolith" aren't bad, they feel about as standard a Fear Factory song as one could imagine. Sometimes the worst thing to say about a song is, "It's fine" and sadly that happens on a few occasions on this outing.
All in all, "Aggression Continuum," is a solid album that will please longtime fans of the band and is good enough to recruit new ones. In terms of Fear Factory's overall catalogue, it's strong enough to compete, but no one will be placing any bets on it to emerge as the undisputed champion. As mentioned at the beginning, this is Fear Factory's most important album since "Mechanize," which marked the beginning of the band's third incarnation. "Aggression Continuum," sees off this period proudly and one has to wonder what the future holds, as Fear Factory without Burton C. Bell feels like Pantera without Phil Anselmo or Type O Negative without Peter Steele. Whatever happens, the band can be pleased with this album, as fans surely will be too.
Highs: "Manufactured Hope," "Cognitive Dissonance" and "End Of Line"
Lows: "Collapse" and "Monolith", misplaced clean vocals, some very standard songs
Bottom line: A good send off for Burton C. Bell and an album which fans and newcomers will enjoy, though it won't rekindle the flame they once had.
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