Review: Fear Factory

Fear Factory
(Liquid 8)

Burton C. Bell is back.  Followers of Fear Factory were disappointed both with their last release “Digimortal” and the subsequent departure of vocalist Burton Bell.  The future of Fear Factory was uncertain.  But after some in house rearranging, long time guitarist Dino Cazares has left the band.

Bassplayer Christian Olde Wolbers has returned to his roots as a guitarist and ex-Strapping Young Lad bassplayer Byron Stroud has assumed the low-end string duties for Fear Factory (drummer Raymond Herrera is still in the mix).  Personally, I don’t care about inter-band politics (although one has to wonder about the line “The infection has been removed. The soul of this machine has improved”).

I did care when they followed up their best album “Obsolete” with the stinker that was “Digimortal”.  When the band dissolved shortly thereafter, I actually though it was for the best in light of that last album.  So it was with a mixed sense of elation from seeing Burton come back to the band and apprehension for a repeat of that previous, unaccomplished album.  “Archetype” comes through.  Back are the repetitive, mechanical guitar attacks and industrial keyboard lacings that worked so well for the band in the past.

And the closer is Nirvana’s “School” which sounds great with Burton screaming “No Recess” repeatedly. They’ve done Nirvana well and that’s no easy task. While this album is no “Obsolete”, it is a strong effort with many worthy tracks “Corporate Cloning” has a unique vocal pattern and some of the choicest Fear Factory single guitar riff crunches.  Burton sounds pissed as ever and bassplayer-now-guitarist Christian Olde Wolbers offers up classic Fear Factory riffage.  It’s that solid attack of guitars combined with the stark industro-mechanical landscapes that so defined previous Fear Factory.

So welcome back boys, stick around and keep writing the terminator sounding nightmares.  I know they have another “Obsolete” in them yet.  While “Archetype” is definitely on the right path, it does feel like the band working back into a sound they almost abandoned at one point.  Glad they cleaned house or did whatever was needed to be done to get this unit back together and recording.  “Archetype” was worth the effort.