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Fear Factory – Mechanize Album Review

14 March 2010 No Comment

By: A. Estes

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Fear Factory Mechanize Album CD Cover Art

The story of how Fear Factory’s seventh album, Mechanize, came to be is a rather messy one. After putting Fear Factory on the back-burner last year, frontman Burton C. Bell patched up his toxic relationship with former guitarist Dino Cazares, only to re-form the band without the consent of its other half. Drummer Raymond Herrera and bassist-turned-guitarist Christian Olde Wolbers were out, while bassist Byron Stroud (who played with the band on their two Dino-less albums) and drummer/workhorse Gene Hoglan (Strapping Young Lad, Dethklok) rounded out the newest incarnation of Fear Factory. With some legal wrangling and a few dozen Blabbermouth headlines, the album has miraculously seen the light of day.

Re-united with longtime collaborator Rhys Fulber, the men that now make up Fear Factory are bound and determined to make Mechanize a glorious return to form. Truth be told, Mechanize is about as good as anything Fear Factory has produced in the last decade. Falling somewhere between the soul-crushing power of Demanufacture and the matured song-writing and dynamics of Obsolete, the album tries for and succeeds at recapturing the band’s glory days. Burton and Dino sound as if they have entered a time-warp roughly somewhere around 1997, while drummer Gene Hoglan does a solid job of aping his predecessor. As for Byron Stroud, well, he delivers as expected, but let’s face it: the role of the bass-player in Fear Factory has always been irrelevant.

The one thing that sets Mechanize aside from the albums it tries to emulate, though, is the shift from the “Man vs. Machine” theme so prevalent in the past. The bluntly-titled “Christploitation” finds Bell calling out organized religion, while “Powershifter” and “Fear Campaign” are more politically charged fare. While the topics explored are certainly nothing new for the metal genre, it helps the album stand on its own merits. As always, though, the main attraction is Burton’s intense growl, which is matched only by his haunting melodies, as well as Dino’s riffing and the insane drumming that comes with the Fear Factory brand, and this album more than does the name justice. There are plenty of songs here that will knock you off your feet, but there are also moments where the band brings on the melody and ambience in true Fear Factory fashion to ensure the experience is an authentic one.

In spite of the fact that Mechanize does little to expand on the tried and true Fear Factory sound, it’s a strong return to form that will no doubt please fans who were confused by the experimental (and, in this reviewer’s opinion, under-rated) Transgression and only help to further cement the band’s legacy as one of the most distinct bands in the metal game. Even if you think Burton and Dino are a couple of unsavory characters for giving their former bandmates the cold shoulder the way they did, you can’t help but love them for making the album they did and staying true to their name. Who knows how long the two can tolerate each other this time around, but hopefully there will be more albums like this one to come.

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