Fear Factory - The Industrialist review
|Release date:||June 2012|
01. The Industrialist
03. New Messiah
04. God Eater
05. Depraved Mind Murder
06. Virus Of Faith
07. Difference Engine
09. Religion Is Flawed Because Man Is Flawed
10. Human Augmentation
11. Blush Response (Difference Engine) [deluxe digibook bonus]
12. Landfill [deluxe digibook bonus]
The rise of Skynet.
Coming off the back of one of the best albums in their career in Mechanize and with the luster of the band's reunion starting to fade, Fear Factory had their backs against the wall. Although the band come out swinging and make a good attempt at fighting to keep their position in the spotlight, their punches don't land with the same power they used to; The Industrialist is a noteworthy attempt that falls short.
To a large degree you can't say Fear Factory played it safe, choosing to raise the stakes by making The Industrialist a concept album, knowing full well that it will immediately be measured against Obsolete by anyone with more than a passing interest in the band. This in turn comes to be a mixed blessing for the band; it helped dust off the cobwebs of waning interest in the band back for those who weren't hardcore fans but it made attracted a sharper spotlight in turn.
The concept of the album is very much in step with the themes the band have made their own for so many years, this time written from the point of view of 'The Industrialist', a machine who slowly wants to become more human before becoming disdainful towards humanity? Skynet meets Bicentennial Man then. It may not be the most original plot, but one that gives the band plenty of material to work with.
While the album does nothing particularly wrong, doing a good job of maintaining its sonic identity, it just is not as compelling a listen as the band's prior works. It hits all the right notes and sounds like what a Fear Factory album should sound like, but therein lies a big part of the problem; why listen to an inferior version when the band have produced a slew of better albums before? While the album doesn't exactly wilt under the spotlight, it does flub its lines and have performance anxiety, where before albums like Mechanize looked articulate and immaculate under such harsh light.
That is the overarching feeling I have when I listen to these songs; while good, you know the band have done better. Nothing is particularly new or a twist on the traditional formula (except the lyrical approach), and nothing is that much better than what has come before it. This isn't Transgression levels of bad, but it fits perfectly as the median point between the band's bad and good output.
Even with studio enhancements, you can hear that Bell's voice has lost a lot of its power, his roar sounding diminished and unable to produce the sounds of before; this is particularly evident on tracks like "Depraved Mind Murder". While this is an understandable inevitability, most vocalists alter their approach to compensate; usually I give them the benefit of the doubt in this situation, and it often gives them an extra string to their bow. Here, it seems like Bell has stuck to his guns and hopes his conviction can overcome practical shortcomings. While it isn't terrible (nor as bad or exposed as it is live) it is something that hits you and sits in the back of your mind as you listen to the album. At the very least, when he is trying to reach the higher notes like on "Virus Of Faith", the issue is minimized.
I do laugh at the irony that the band replaced a drummer with a drum machine for the album; humanity is really becoming obsolete and the members of the band are not immune either apparently. The drumming is fine and if you are true to yourself, it's not something you can really hear except the odd moment where things sound too flawless to be human. Cazares pulls triple duty being the guitarist, bass player and drum programmer; he is a dab hand at all three and shows he has a good degree of talent with whatever is put in front of him.
There are moments on this album that will have you coming back and listening to them on occasion, giving The Industrialist relisten value beyond wanting to hear more playlist variation in your Fear Factory sessions. "Difference Engine" blends the more melodic and to a degree thrashy side of the band perfectly, meeting both ends in the middle to create a unique song that separates itself from much of the band's catalogue. "New Messiah" is a good listen even if it is another product of the "Self Bias Resister" formula (on the topic of similar sounding songs, "Human Augmentation" is very much the step brother to the end of "Final Exit"). While the rest of the album is strong and warrants a listen while you are there, it is only really these two songs I find myself actively wanting to go back to.
While I have been somewhat negative towards The Industrialist, I wouldn't advise you steer clear of it and give it a wide berth should you hear it (will always remember hearing "Recharger" coming on at a metal club, before being bombarded by questions as to who this was and for further recommendations); I would suggest starting elsewhere and working your way back to this should you want a better impression of Fear Factory.
||Written on 07.09.2020 by|
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