Fear Factory are a machine built to last, that despite being mired in various legal disagreements for the last 12 years has managed to drag itself forward again and again.
This album comes with more drama though, with vocalist (and longest continuous member) Burton C. Bell buckling under the weight of it all, taking his bat and ball and fucking off into the abyss. Guitarist Dino Cazares, now the only original member, vowed to release the album with Bell’s vocal tracks intact left, although as the main songwriter the musical vision is bound to stay the same.
After a small build up Recode comes bursting forth with exactly anyone should have come to expect. There is a touch of strings in the background with the keyboards adds an extra dimension to the well-worn sci-fi driven mechanical musical action. Disruptor meanwhile wastes no time in being one of the heaviest tracks the band has laid down in years. Thus in the opening two tracks, Fear Factory has managed to show precisely why they have always been the best at doing what they do. Light and shade, good and bad, whatever you want to label the dynamic, it has always worked best with Cazares’ staccato riffing underneath the dry roar and dreamy croon of Bell.
Beyond the drama and legal wrangling it is still business as usual. Given extra time (and funds courtesy of a crowdfunding appeal) Cazares has softened the mechanical edges of the bands sound, first recording live drums with Mike Heller and then adding strings to create an organic sound throughout the chaos in splashes small enough to be noticed but not enough to dominate.
With the exception of Purity and Monolith, which sit musically within the band’s more maligned material like Digimortal or Transgression, there isn’t much to report on the dullard ballad type front. Expecting the worst from Manufactured Hope, it is instead an aggressive, pummelling reminder of the power they have always controlled.
This was always geared to be the best album of the Burton/Dino era as they built towards it across three stellar albums, only to grind to a halt. And it is, but it tinged with the sadness that this variant of the machine will not be able to recreate the hot oil venom in a live environment. Take this as it is, not an epitaph, but a closing on yet another chapter of the Fear Factory story. If the life of the machine has taught us anything, it is that there is always a future and no holding it back.
3. Aggression Continuum
5. Fuel Injected Suicide Machine
7. Manufactured Hope
8. Cognitive Dissonance
10. End of Line