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Fear Factory: Mechanize

Almost five years since their last album industrial metal pioneers Fear Factory are back with a vengeance on Mechanize, which is arguably their strongest disc since 1998's Digimortal. While Mechanize marks the much heralded return of original guitarist Dino Cazares who patched up his differences with vocalist Burton C. Bell last year after being excluded from the past two albums, longtime members, bassist/ guitarist Christian Olde Wolbers and drummer Raymond Herrera have now been shown the door in what has been simply referred to as a 'reorganization'. So in comes new member Gene Hoglan on drums and returning bassist Byron Stroud who has been with the group since 2003.

Forget any behind the scenes legal wrangling in order to prevent this configuration from going forward as Fear Factory because in my opinion this version of the band has every right to the name, at least as far as keeping the groups musical legacy intact. Whether they have a legal right to the name is another thing.

Cazares' return has re-energized the band and they've channeled that energy into ten tracks that easily rank amongst the best of their career to date. Gone are any guest appearances, rap experiments and unnecessary cover versions, as Bell and Cazares seemingly decided to return to the sound that first made the band so successful and unique in the first place. In addition the duo also brought back long time collaborator Rhys Fulber to once again help flesh out the sound with his keyboards, programming and production techniques.

"Mechanize" kicks things off in fine fashion as the opening mechanical sounds eventually give way to Cazares' trademark rapid fire riffs over top Hoglan's pummeling industrial blast beats. Bell is also in fine form early on as he alternates between commanding barks and clean vocals on this track, much like he does for the remainder of the album. This track segues directly into "Industrial Discipline" another song executed at warp speed with more punishing rhythms and a fabulous soaring chorus from Bell.

Throughout the course of Mechanize Hoglan's lightning fast, machine gun sounding rhythms are in perfect step with Cazares' scorching, layered riffs. "Fear Campaign", "Powershifter" "Oxidizer" and "Controlled Demolition" are great examples of just how Hoglan and Stroud lock things down and help to accentuate the crushing weight of Dino's guitar work. The disc closes with two of the strongest songs on Mechanize, "Designing The Enemy" and "Final Exit". The former offers a splendid chorus featuring Bell's clean vocal melodies, while the latter is an eight minute epic that lyrically deals with society and the world of medicine's inability to help terminally ill human beings who are left with no choice but to seek out assisted suicide as a way out of their pain. The track concludes with almost four minutes of somber sounding piano and simple electronic textures, which seems like a fitting and at the same time kind of ironic way to end both the track and the album. For all of the unrelenting brutality displayed on Mechanize, the proceedings come to an end with a distinct feeling of peace and tranquility. Mission accomplished.

Mechanize is nothing less than a true return to form for Fear Factory and I have to say another early contender to climb up those top ten lists for 2010. Let's hope this lineup of the band is able to keep it together this time and can continue to knock out another couple of albums like this one.

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

Added: February 14th 2010
Reviewer: Ryan Sparks
Score:
Related Link: Candlelight Records
Hits: 1978
Language: english

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Fear Factory: Mechanize
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2015-12-26 09:29:00
My Score:

With the return of original guitarist Dino Cazares and the subsequent departures of long time bassist Christian Olde Wolbers, who switched to guitars when Dino was ousted from the band back in 2002, and long time drummer Raymond Herrera the pressure has been placed on Fear Factory to live up to former glories and prove that the upheaval has paid off. Replacing Herrera with Gene Hoglan, who has played with everyone from Death, Dark Angel and Strapping Young Lad among others, was a masterstroke and completes a line up of now only surviving original member Burton C. Bell on vocals and Byron Stroud, who took on bass duties after the first split in '02.

Whilst Fear Factory's output has never reached the levels of sub-standard, it would be fair to suggest that the journey they have taking since losing the line up that recorded the seminal albums Demanufacture and Obsolete has been one that has steadily led downhill. 2004's Archetype and Transgression which came a year later were pale imitations of the brutal almost robotically precise sound from the band's past and it is with the motivation to rediscover those unique qualities that guitarist and vocalist find themselves reunited. Now some five years down the line from their last studio release, Mechanize is a mighty uncompromising claim to a throne the band once owned undisputed. With the signature riffs back in place, Hoglan tearing everything apart with some stunningly meticulous blasts, Stroud holding it all together with simple yet effective bass playing and Bell illustrating why he laid claim to be the genre leading growlingly melodic vocal battering ram, Fear Factory have returned to remind us all how it should be done.

Often forgotten when vocal inspirations are discussed Burton C. Bell really set the tone for a generation of snarling, bighting frontmen that mixed that style with the ability to stun with gloriously melodic clean vocals that made the blasts of aggression all the more astounding. None have bettered him and on the evidence of his performances here, it will be a long time before someone does. Throughout every track on Mechanize Fear Factory sound determined and focused whether it's the blast beats and manic guitars of "Fear Campaign" or "Controlled Demolition", or the more considered approach of "Designing The Enemy" or "Christsplotation" that illustrate the band's deftness at mixing rhythms and speeds, every song hits the target with pin point accuracy. Closing track "Final Exit" takes the listener through the final journey from life into death and the pacing of the track proves that Fear Factory are masters of atmosphere as well as ferocity.

Even with the sniping between current and past members of the band fresh in the mind, it's hard to suggest that the new foursome that have come together as Fear Factory isn't the right one to take the band forward and retake their rightful place as genre innovating leaders.

Fear Factory: Mechanize
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-02-14 08:34:31
My Score:

Though you can kind of feel bad for the very talented Christian Olde-Wolbers and Raymond Herrera, there's no denying that this latest incarnation of Fear Factory could possibly be the best yet. Original members Burton C. Bell and Dino Cazares have kissed and made up, and brought along with them returing bassist Byron Stroud and extreme metal drum legend Gene Hoglan, for a line-up that truly delivers the classic Fear Factory sound here on Mechanize.

This thing is plenty brutal, a 'kick to the head' collection of turbo charged cyber-metal as only FF can concoct. If you listen to just one track to help you decide that this band is back in a big way, let that be "Industrial Discipline", a raging bit of industrial metal bombast that is as melodic & catchy as it is brutal, with Hoglan's mechanical drum blasts leading the charge of furious riffing and Bell's mix of melodic & growling vocals. From there, you get plenty of highlights, including the rampaging "Fear Campaign", the completely crushing "Powershifter", the hi-tech, almost proggy "Christploitation", the blitzkrieg that is "Controlled Demolition", and the closing, near 9-minute symphonic blast of "Final Exit". Plenty of keyboards & electronics bubbling throughout the mix here on Mechanize, which will thrill lovers of the early FF albums, but first and foremost, this one is truly thunderous, with a crisp production that lends every instrument and vocal nuance perfectly audible.

In short, a near flawless, classic sounding Fear Factory record that instantly makes the band totally relevant in the extreme metal world once again.

Fear Factory: Mechanize
Posted by Butch Jones, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-02-11 07:12:44
My Score:

Yes, you can go back to from which you came. The future is here again and it is being televised. This is Fear Factory Remanufactured!!!!!

Fear Factory 3.0 has dropped, perhaps the most important Metal release of 2010 with the brutal Mechanize (Candlelight Records). 10 tracks (14 tracks on the deluxe edition!) of full on Cyborg fisted Industrial Metal from one of the originators of the genre. The updated 3.0 version of FF now consists of original members, Metal Guitar God, Dino Cazares and the Godfather of Modern Metal vocals, Burton C. Bell. Also rounding out this new line up are long time member, bass player Byron Stroud (Strapping Young Lad, Cities On Fire) and Metal Drum legend Gene Hoglan (Dethklok, Strapping Young Lad). To say that this new, updated version sounds fresh and hungry would be an understatement.

Mechanize just very simply destroys. The mechanical images and sound effects that had always lied underneath the music that was always such a huge part of what made Fear Factory, Fear Factory, have been gone over the Dino-less era FF, but are now back in the fold and they create that eerie Terminator-like landscape. I am fan of the non Dino era, but there is no denial of the impact and the riffery that Dino brings to the Fear Factory world. There is only ONE Dino Cazares! That ungodly guitar tone that has spawned an entire generation of Metal kids to try and replicate and his usage of the 7 string guitar, also can not be denied. The guy possesses the best picking right hand on the planet and no offense to Christian Olde-Wolbers, Dino's shoes were huge ones to step into. The chemistry between Burton C. Bell and Dino Cazares is an obvious and immediate one to detect and we are the ones who benefit from their reconciliation.

From the opening sonic images that begin on the self titled track, "Mechanize", you are instantly taken back to the 1st time that you heard the opening sounds of the classic "Demanufacture". Long time producer, Rhys Fulber was at the helm again and he so captured the essence of the brutality that is once again Fear Factory. The addition of god like drummer Gene Hoglan, who himself had huge and fast shoes to fill for former drummer Raymond Herrera, has also created another dimension to the 2010 Fear Factory sound. Is there anything that Hoglan can't do? The guy is probably the only drummer that COULD fill Herrera's drum stool and just continues to be the Metal Monster that he is!

But does Mechanize capture all of the former glory that was Fear Factory? In a word…YES. This is the record that we have all been waiting for. And I can't actually remember the last time that an established band that may have strayed away from doing what they did, actually went backwards and delivered the goods. Actually, Megadeth might be the last REAL time. They screwed up with the overly commercial Risk and got back on the metal horse with the killer The World Needs A Hero, but thank god Fear Factory never strayed that badly! Mechanize is just a perfect Industrial Metal record that could have only been written by Fear Factory. From the 1st single, "Powershifter", it was clear that a statement was being made that this WAS the old FF, just slightly tweaked for optimum performance. The terrorizing rapid fire riffing and punishingly fast double bass drums just completely kick you in the ass. THIS is what you WANT to hear from FF! "Industrial Discipline" is the 2nd track and the pulverizing doesn't let up. Dino's masterful right hand picking was missed. Other crushing highlight's on Mechanize are the mesmerizingly heavy "Oxidizer", "Controlled Demolition", that reminds me of the main riff in Demanufacture's "Dog Day Sunrise", the manic pace of "Fear Campaign" and the cool poly rhythm break downs in "Designing The Enemy". And what has become Burton C. Bell's calling card, Mechanize ends on the brooding, somber and thoughtful note of "Final Exit". Bell always has something to say and he DOES always seem to get you to think. Mechanize is a look at the death of the Industrial Revolution and the impending wave of what is to come next, sounds eerily familiar to the times in which we live, doesn't it?

Let's look past all of the recent mudslinging between the two halves of the original Fear Factory. This is about the music. Fear Factory has become a legendary and hugely influential band since their genre making days of the mid '90's and Mechanize is the record that should finally put them into the place that they should have rightly obtained years ago. The modern metal world has needed this record. This could quite easily be the best record in the Fear Factory catalog and I don't say that lightly. It is an excellent mix of the brutality of Demanufacture, the great songwriting of Obsolete and the modern sheen of Digimortal. Mechanize is Fear Factory remanufactured and once again THE Soul of the New Machine.





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