To say that Fear Factory helped shape the way that industrial and extreme metal could mix with melody doesn’t really give them enough credit. This group has been incredibly influential since their inception in 1989 and the 1992 release of their debut album, Soul Of A New Machine. Now, over 20 years later, the band is releasing The Industrialist, their eighth studio album. This is the second album to see singer Burton C. Bell reunited with original guitarist Dino Cazares after their split 2002. The album is also produced by Rhys Fulbar, who worked with the band on Obsolete, Digimortal, and Mechanize. But does this album have the same intensity and aggression that the band is known for? See below for my thoughts.
The album kicks off with the title track, “The Industrialist”. Just as the title suggests, the first several moments are very mechanical and industrial. The song then quickly becomes a brutally heavy track, complete with blisteringly accurate guitar riffage. However, the programmed drums, which theoretically should work, end up sounding too pristine and cold. They are just too perfect for the evil miasma that lurks over this song. Unfortunately this problem persists throughout the album.
A personal favorite track is “God Eater”, which is very heavy and intense. It actually sounds like something that Meshuggah might have easily recorded in one of their earlier albums. It is easily the most oppressive track on the album. It bears down upon you like some malevolent deity which tears at you, trying to lay claim to your soul.
As the album progressed I found that I was becoming more and more blasé. While the songs had my head nodding along, it felt like everything I was hearing was just the previous song rehashed. I also simply did not enjoy both “Difference Engine” and “Dissemble”.
Then there are the last two tracks, “Religion is Flawed Because Man is Flawed” and “Human Augmentation”. The former is a soft, melodic, atmospheric, surprisingly beautiful track. The issue is that it doesn’t feel like it belongs on this album. There was nothing that hinted that a track like this would appear. It’s a complete surprise that left me scratching my head in confusion. The latter track is simply nine minutes of atmospheric noise. That’s it. I sat through the whole thing hoping that there would be a crushing climax. Alas, there isn’t one. It’s a wasted track that could’ve easily been shortened if not left off entirely.
The album sounds pristine and is heavily layered. The guitars sound thick and vicious while Bell’s vocals, strong as ever, shine, especially during his vocal harmonies. My only issue is, as stated above, the programmed drums sounding cold and inhuman. Considering the lyrical themes presented here, perhaps this is what they were going for?
The Final Word: While not a bad album by any means, Fear Factory’s The Industrialist never got my blood pumping or my heart racing. It’s an okay entry to the band’s legacy.
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