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Fear Factory - "The Industrialist" (CD)

Fear Factory - "The Industrialist" CD cover image

"The Industrialist" track listing:

1. The Industrialist
2. Recharger
3. New Messiah
4. God Eater
5. Depraved Mind Murder
6. Virus of Faith
7. Difference Engine
8. Dissemble
9. Religion Is Flawed Because Man Is Flawed
10. Human Augmentation

Reviewed by on June 7, 2012

"...I felt like I’ve heard this album before, again and again. However, after a few listens, the album began to grow on me."

When Fear Factory released “Mechanize” two years ago, I really felt the group had returned to their roots, most specifically to a sound recalling “Demanufacture.” While the last album showed definite similarities of style to their second album, I now see obvious differences. I mostly based this assessment on Dino Cazares’ return. “The Industrialist,” the second album from the second era of Dino, follows the “Demanufacture” blueprint much closer, causing some fans to question the group’s creativity.

My initial listen stirred a similar emotional response. Being a fan of the group since “Soul of the New Machine,” I didn’t want thoughts such as “been there, done that” to surface in my mind, but I felt like I’ve heard this album before, again and again. However, after a few listens, the album began to grow on me. Burton C. Bell’s vocal harmonies, the group’s dynamics, Dino’s guitar play and, of course, the tightness of the rhythm section (featuring newcomer Matt DeVries of Chimaira fame on bass) was created with such superb craftsmanship that the album is in constant rotation in my brain, leading to play after play in the physical world.

Past Fear Factory records featured greater input from band members such as Raymond Herrera and Christian Olde Wolbers. Bell, Cazares and producer Rhys Fulber were the primary writers of “The Industrialist.” With fewer members involved in the writing process, the band was able to better mesh their ideas. The title track, and album lead-in, exemplifies their solid writing. The intro builds momentum, making a heavy transformation at the perfect time. There is nothing complex in Fear Factory’s song structures. Their use of tried and true verse-bridge-chorus formula works. The anticipation of Bell’s digitized singing voice during a breakdown is part of the album’s charm.

Bell is somewhat poppy in his vocal delivery during “New Messiah,” but the harmonies are unforgettable. On “God Eater,” he takes a slower vocal deliver that when backed by keyboards creates a divine quality. He maintains his quasi-shouting voice during chorus lines on “Dissemble.” The “falling down” melody during these portions of the song stuck with me.

As far as memorable musical parts go, one place to start is with “Difference Engine.” Even though the programmed drums serve as an engine of time, there is a bombastic section near the beginning of the track that is a couple notes away from the beginning of “Replica.” The low tuning guitar parts resonate deeply as Bell shouts, “They are not one of us” during “God Eater.” I can see this track energizing audiences in much the same way that “Cyberwaste” did.

Compared to “Mechanize,” “The Industrialist” is composed better and the guitar tones are more in line with “Demanufacture.” The group lost some of Gene Hoglan’s impetus when they used programmed drums. “The Industrialist” follows “Obsolete” as Fear Factory’s second concept album. The man vs. machine theme works well, which was one reason the group used two soundtrack-style tracks to end the album. These tracks add to the story, but we don’t really need two of them—we get the point. At over nine minutes, “Human Augmentation” becomes background noise after a couple of minutes.

Fear Factory is at a difficult point in their career. They have twenty years of releases under their belt. When bands have been around for this long, they experience a catch-22; fans will become bored if the band repeats the same style on each album, yet they’ll catch flack if they take their music in another direction. “The Industrialist” is well-written and composed, albeit lacking creativity, so I think the time for hating and indifference hasn’t come just yet.

Highs: A well-composed album with an intriguing lyrical concept.

Lows: "The Industrialist" lacks creativity and "Human Augmentation" needs trimming.

Bottom line: “The Industrialist” is well-written and composed, albeit lacking creativity, so I think the time for hating and indifference hasn’t come just yet.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)