Fear Factory - Demanufacture review


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Band: Fear Factory
Album: Demanufacture
Release date: June 1995

01. Demanufacture
02. Self Bias Resistor
03. Zero Signal
04. Replica
05. New Breed
06. Dog Day Sunrise [Head Of David cover]
07. Body Hammer
08. Flashpoint
09. H-K (Hunter-Killer)
10. Pisschrist
11. A Therapy For Pain
12. Your Mistake [Agnostic Front cover] [bonus]
13. ¡Resistancia! [bonus]
14. New Breed [Revolutionary Designed remix] [bonus]
15. Replica [Electric Sheep remix] [bonus]

Faceless In The Machine.

For a period in the '90's, weird was wonderful, and experimentalism was rewarded with renewed vigour as the monochrome shadows of thrash and glam metal receded into the past; in this new playground of music, Fear Factory found their place. The band's industrial sound was fresh (though it was not the first coming, coming in the wake of the likes of Godflesh) and familiar at the same time, with the crushing weight of death metal mixed with new electronic sounds that could appeal to fans of thrash and those looking for something new. Demanufacture was the perfect synthesis of so many things combined onto one disk: new sounds meeting old sounds, heavy but accessible and fresh but familiar. This rare meeting of so many different strands created one of the biggest and most pivotal releases of the '90's, and one that had big ramifications for the future of metal.

From the dark and cold sounds that introduce the album before merging into the electronic and crushing sound of "Demanufacture" proper, you are led into an album that sounds like the future and the next step in the evolution of metal. Bleak, oppressive and eerie, in the darkness it casts you are able to project your own visions onto the band, be it demonic if you were coming off a Slayer binge or nihilistic if you had just listened to Nine Inch Nails. The band paint a picture with their music that is concise enough that you are introduced to their narrative but with enough blank space that the listener can find their own spot to sit in.

Fear Factory showed clear progression and experience from the days of Soul Of A New Machine, maintaining the intensity and identity for sure, but with a greater focus on the industrial aspect of their sound than their death metal leanings, meeting at a confluence in tracks like "H-K (Hunter-Killer)" and "Self Bias Resistor". Cazares and Bell work well in tandem in introducing the new sound while also keeping their feet based in the past, with Cazares' downtuned assault being the easiest bond to their prior work while Bell's wider range in his voice highlights where the band blaze their own trail.

It is this ability to reshape their identity and what metal music could be to listeners while sounding familiar enough to allow people to find their own niche in their music that makes tracks like "Replica", "New Breed" and "Zero Signal" compelling listening. "New Breed" for example sounds like a punk song run through the industrial mangler (anyone who remembers Billy Idol's Cyberpunk will know how easily this is to screw up) that sounds vital, new yet with enough familiarity to what is old. It is an album that just knocks down preconceived notions by its sheer weight.

With the exception of "H-K (Hunter-Killer)", what all the songs mentioned prior have in common is that they are all at the front end of the record, making for a lopsided listening experience. While the second half of the album after "Dog Day Sunrise" is still very strong, it cannot compete with the onslaught that was the back-to-back assault of the first half of the record. While tracks like "Flashpoint" and "Pisschrist" are classics in their own right, they sit in the shadow cast by the mushroom cloud that was the first half of the record.

The album revels in its dark and cold sound, adding an overarching atmosphere that adds extra depths to what are already thick songs; Richardson manages to instill the record with the dystopian soundscape the band would then fill with their sci-fi-come-apocalyptic imagery and sound. With hindsight being the wonderful thing that it is, it is a sound that does sound very compressed by today's standards; like the soulless mechanizations the band rails against, it sounds very lifeless when compared to their later work. While the songs overcome this due to their quality, I find the production lacking a level of charm or space that would become features of the band's later work. Do not take that as a disservice to Demanufacture; given the limitations of the time and the new approach to music, it was obvious there were going to learning curves as the genre expanded.

It is easily a record I would recommend to anyone getting into metal, one to show the broadness and expansiveness of a genre that is able to retain its focus on being heavy without compromise to what are often seen as constraining boundaries. One of the best records to come out of the '90's and an epoch-making moment in industrial metal.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Production: 7


Written on 07.10.2020 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.


Comments: 2   Visited by: 15 users
07.10.2020 - 17:02
Agreed 100% with your review here. Definitely the crowning achievement for Fear Factory and the genre as a whole. Nearly a perfect album that is timeless and to me is a revolutionary record.
07.10.2020 - 22:41
Excellent review
only thing i"d disagree with, i think Body Hammer, Flashpoint, H-K, Pisschrist are as strong as the first half of the album, Dog Day Sunrise is just terrible enough to in a continuous listen drag down everything from that point on
Otherwise, wonderful album, was among my early favourites when getting into metal too
Written by Warman on 07.11.2007 at 22:39
Haha, that's like saying "compose your own Metal album and upload it here, instead of writing a review of an album". :lol:

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