Fear Factory - Genexus review


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Band: Fear Factory
Album: Genexus
Release date: August 2015

01. Autonomous Combat System
02. Anodized
03. Dielectric
04. Soul Hacker
05. Protomech
06. Genexus
07. Church Of Execution
08. Regenerate
09. Battle For Utopia
10. Expiration Date
11. Mandatory Sacrifice [Genexus remix] [limited digipak bonus]
12. Enhanced Reality [limited digipak bonus]

The next step in human evolution, but standing still for Fear Factory.

Having re-established a level of traction with The Industrialist, Fear Factory had found a sense of purpose since their return as a band five years earlier; Genexus should have been the album that saw them leap after they had just taken a step forward but alas, the best laid plans rarely work. Genexus throws up a conundrum along with its contents: do you want an album living in the past or one that moves forward? What your answer is for this question will likely determine your enjoyment of the album.

Through each release Fear Factory made sonic progression, each album sounding like it was moving the band forward somewhere new, even if it was only tinkering at the edges. The albums without Cazares went somewhere new, though like someone fighting to keep their head above the water, it was the tide and not the band's determination that decided where they went. While Mechanize can be given a pass as it was the band hitting the reset button and re-establishing themselves, Genexus can't be given the same treatment. Following on from The Industrialist, it is the first album by the band that I feel is treading water for no real reason other than being far too focused on trying to fix The Industrialist than offering anything unique.

It's a tighter version for sure, filling in the blanks and going over in bold lines where before they were slightly faint; it's not unwelcome to hear a better-played and harder-hitting version of The Industrialist. What is unwelcome is that the band seem to be unnerved by the so-so reception that their prior album was greeted with such that they then move forward whilst looking backwards as if to convince themselves and, by virtue, their fans that they could fix what wasn't really that broken. Sure, it had dings and dents in it, but it didn't necessitate building a whole new car by way of apology. Rather than working on and perfecting the blueprints of old, I would have preferred that the band moved on and just bettered themselves with their new material rather than try and make good what they had already released.

Where does this similarity arise? Well the concepts of both albums are eerily similar; both focus on machines gaining sentience and seeing the fragility of humanity versus their own superiority, subsequently becoming determined to overthrow humanity. So far, so Fear Factory, but where before the band differentiated themselves either by musical direction (Obsolete) or by not fitting a tight narrative (any other non-concept release), Genexus does none of this; rather than sounding like a new chapter in a book, it sounds like a ret-con from an author stuck in the same universe but finding no new unique facet to work with.

Add onto this the album has a tendency of calling back to songs of the band's past, and not in a good way; nostalgia is a hell of a drug, but when the whole album already feels like a repeat, this becomes overload. "Soul Hacker" conjures up a familiar feeling to "Edgecrusher", just if it was written with a greater focus on heaviness than groove. "Protomech" has a very similar intro to "Powershifter" among others on the album. While the band's sound does limit them somewhat, I would expect their boundaries to be wider than they apparently are and it does smack of the band running out of steam, at least in terms of originality.

As mentioned earlier, if you can overcome or bypass this conundrum, then you will probably enjoy this album, as it is comes much closer than The Industrialist did in matching Mechanize in the hard-hitting and enjoyability stakes. "Anodized" and "Soul Hacker" are strong additions to the 'short but heavy with a melo chorus' pile that Fear Factory have perfected over the years. "Regenerate" harkens back to the days of Demanufacture in a good way, with its electronic effects sounding inspired rather than compelled.

Cazares and Bell may not be able to write as immediately memorable passages or parts like they were able to with ease during the '90's, but it doesn't necessitate a drop in quality as such. While Bell may be more reliant on vocal effects as a crutch, he does at least retain the fire and determination, even if he can't project it with the same power as he used to be able to. I'd rather Bell be more mechanically reliant (ironic) than him just phone it in, and this shines through in spades. Cazares can still make a compelling track and play some crushing riffs on his guitar (and bass), though he seems to have gotten snagged on his past work here and there.

Depending on what answer the conundrum gives you once you think about it, Genexus is an album that will likely divide fans and listeners alike; did you come into it wanting something new or something better than before? Answers on a postcard please.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
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: 9 users
07.10.2020 - 16:56
I personally loved this album. FF has always been one of my favorite bands though. Love the aggression, sonic punch in the face and as always Burton's vocals are awesome on this one. I'd give this a 8.2. Not their best, but for me in the top half of their catalog.
07.10.2020 - 23:40
"The albums without Cazares went somewhere new..."
and also so distant that it was not Fear Factory anymore.

I hope the new album is ever released, even if it's another Genexus.

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