February 9, 2010

Album Review: "Mechanize" by Fear Factory

Up until recently, Fear Factory hadn't been right since the days of Demanufacture and Obsolete. These two albums are considered by fans and critics alike to be the band's "glory days." Every release since those two has ranged in quality from boring to abysmal. Their sound on Transgression was lazy and stale, Archetype has always seemed formulaic in its implementation, and Digimortal was pure, unadulterated garbage. Having to wait through constant delays and long periods of silence for a new album didn't do a lot for fans of the band, who wondered if the veteran group could ever right the ship. However, in the midst of chaos and struggle as membership changes led to a legal battle, the band has returned to the glory days of old with the long-anticipated Mechanize. This album is easily one of the best of the band's whole career, and it completely wipes away all memory of their previous mediocre work.

The biggest factor that makes Mechanize so much better than its predecessors is the monster now sitting behind the drumkit. Gene Hoglan uses his formidable drumming skills to their fullest potential on this album, delivering razor-sharp drum patterns with machine-like speed and timing you could set a metronome to. The return of Dino Cazares on guitar adds a great deal to the band's sound as well. The solos on this album are much more vibrant and complex, and the riffs are some of the most violently extreme found on any Fear Factory album. Dino and bassist Byron Stroud form a titanic duo that reminds listeners of the harsh, cutting tone of Demanufacture, but with a great deal more maturity and progression in song structure than the older album. The vocals on Mechanize are also a huge leap forward from the last three albums. Burton C. Bell's performance sounds as fresh and energized as it did fifteen years ago, with unbridled ferocity and aggression in both his clean singing and his screaming.

The mixture of sound on Mechanize is also reminiscent of the band's older albums, although the album is definitely not as diverse in its sound. However, in this case, that's a good thing. After the lackadaisical tone of Archetype and Transgression, which lacked the rawness that Fear Factory fans hoped for, Mechanize is a hydraulic-fueled kick in the teeth, with no breaks or interludes until the very end of the album. Every track is driven by an atmosphere of hostility and rebellion. The song structures are much more reliant on death metal and hardcore than industrial elements, similar to the band's debut album, Soul of a New Machine. The album's final two tracks are the only breaks listeners get, and even here, the pervading sense of anger remains.

Mechanize is an unrelenting album, keeping the speed and technicality consistent throughout nearly every song. With such a powerful return to form, this album was well worth the wait. Fans can only hope that the onslaught of this album translates well into Fear Factory's live performance, because these songs deserve the same level of intensity live that they have on disc. Regardless of the legal battle that is still going on, Fear Factory is back on top, and they won't be going anywhere soon.

Score: 8.5 out of 10

Track Listing

1. Mechanize
2. Industrial Discipline
3. Fear Campaign
4. Powershifter
5. Christploitation
6. Oxidizer
7. Controlled Demolition
8. Designing the Enemy
9. Metallic Division
10. Final Exit

Album Personnel

Burton C. Bell – Vocals
Dino Cazares – Guitar
Byron Stroud – Bass guitar
Gene Hoglan – Drums

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You need to hear the "new" version of "Crash Test" that they did as a bonus track. I listened to it and the original. All I have to say is AMAZING.