Fear Factory – Genexus

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Fear Factory formed a whopping 26 years ago in Los Angeles and they pretty much defined the whole brutal vocal/melodic singing combo style and taking the industrial style of metal to a whole new level. The 1995 album ‘Demanufacture’ is still referred to as the bands most important and accessible album but now 20 years later, they are about to release their 9th studio album… or their 7th if you are discounting the two ‘non Dino Cazares’ releases during the bands somewhat ‘less popular’ phase.

Differences aside, and no disrespect to original drummer Raymond Herrera and bassist turned guitarist Christian Olde Wolbers, Dino re-connected with original co-founding member Burton C Bell (vocals) and in late 2009 released ‘Mechanize’ with the legendary Gene Hoglan on drums and Byron Stroud on bass, both of whom were also previous members of Strapping Young Lad (another amazing industrial metal band) and the fans rejoiced. Especially after the lacklustre release that was ‘Transgression’ in 2005, ‘Mechanize’ was hailed as a return to form, capturing the brutal staccato drum/guitar and signature vocal style of Bell, it looked like things were on the up. In 2012 the band downsized to a duo of Bell and Cazares (opting for live members to complete the line up) who are essentially the right and left sides of the brain that is Fear Factory. The album ‘The Industrialist’ was met with mixed reviews, mainly down to the fact they decided to use drum machine/software as opposed to a live drummer. The songs were also not as bombastic as the comeback album ‘Mechanize’ so when the band announced a new album was on the cards for a summer release and that touring drummer Mike Heller would be handling drum duties, the fans asked is it worth the wait?

Opening track ‘Autonomous Combat System’ starts with brooding machine clanking and a piano narrated build up, describing a ‘machine that can think and feel’ and then the trade mark drum/guitar staccato savagery begins. Burton’s vocals are on point from the opening line and the song pulses with cybermetal goodness, leading into a super catchy chorus with Bell singing ‘I am a weapon of human design’ reminding us that the concept of man vs machine continues as the theme for the album. Next up is ‘Anodized’ which could have been a b-side to anything off ‘Obsolete’, and again a another big singing chorus with a ton of double bass drums, exactly what the doctor ordered.

‘Dielectric’ is the bands first music video release and is a pummelling onslaught from the get go. The chorus has a slight ‘Digimortal’esque feel to it, which isn’t a bad thing because the melodies here are on point and the vocals return to something that sounds like it could have come from the ‘Demanufacture’ era. ‘Soul Hacker’ which was the first taste of new material in 3 years, a groovy bouncing tune and by far the softest when it comes to the heavy songs on this album. ‘Promotech’ is easily one of the stand out songs on the album, it is just perfect Fear Factory anthem, catchy electronic keys wrapped around a drum tattoo driving into a anathemic chorus. What a song!

Title track ‘Genexus’ almost sounds like the opening title track ‘Demanufacture’ with a bass drum intro before launching into Bell’s very ‘Slave Labor’-esque vocal rapping which then leads into one of the heaviest choruses on the record. ‘Church Of Execution’ brings us back to the more industrial elements we love and strips down to a bass/vocal verse with a mid paced chorus and a bridge with what I call Dino’s ’Digimortal’ clean guitar sound. Next up is the catchy-as-f**k ‘Regenerate’ which has single written all over it. A classic Fear Factory song with one of the biggest hook choruses since ‘Resurrection’

The last two songs on this album are by far worth waiting for, and in my opinion are quite possibly the best on the album. ‘Battle For Utopia’ starts with what I can only describe a a Gary Numan keyboard and some of the most savage riffing before the Numan keys return for the chorus. Such a good song I cannot stress enough, just perfection.

And in true Fear Factory fashion we are served with the finale which historically on most albums has been a slow-epic-anthem… and on this occasion they do not disappoint. ‘Expiration Date’ is a thing of beauty… Dino’s harmonic guitars with a piano and fuzz bass tag team layered with Burton’s haunting singing ‘under the surface we’re not machines, under the surface we’re living dreams’ . If this 9 minute epic doesn’t give you goosebumps then you need to hit repeat and list to it again, it’s that good. And as the pianos and Terminator sounding machines fade into the silence, you breathe and realise you’ve just been treated to 48 minutes of what I call perfection.

As an old skool Fear Factory fan I can understand people will say I am bias on this review (and you are probably right) but also as a fan of metal for some 30+ years I can safely say that this is probably THE most important album Fear Factory have released in the last 20 years. I know I’ve referenced a lot of their older albums, but to put it into context, when AC/DC releases an album that sounds just like all their old stuff the fans love it, it is their sound and it is their style. Fear Factory have done exactly that and more. And that is not a bad thing. If the wheel isn’t broken why fix it?

To conclude, if i said ‘Genexus’ is better than anything Fear Factory have released since their third album ‘Obsolete’ in 1999 I am not lying… and is it better than ‘Obsolete’?… I am almost inclined to say yes.

If you are a fan and thought when ’Mechanize’ came out it was like ‘Demanufacture – part 2’…. scratch that statement, because ‘Genexus’ is the true successor to ‘Demanufacture’, it’s filled with industrial anthems and brutality, and this fan is more than blown away by it.

It is absolutely perfect!

DJ

11/10