Fear Factory – “Genexus” (Nuclear Blast Records)
Fear Factory….man, these guys take me all the way back to the mid 90s when they released their ground breaking album “Demanufacture” whose resounding earthquake resonated throughout the metal world. Skillfully blending industrial with groove and death metal like we’d never heard before, Fear Factory went onto to conquer this world and possibly the universe thanks to the dynamic duo of Burton C Bell’s vocals and Dino Cazares’s compositions. It was a truly ground breaking time with much of Fear Factory’s material being featured in video game soundtracks and futuristic films like “Resident Evil”. Inevitably friction within the band led to its demise and then an ill fated resurrection which at one point had two Fear Factory’s going! However, Cazares and Bell would patch their differences, form a new band (excluding original drummer Raymond Herrera and bassist Christian Wolbers) and release what is regarded as their comeback album in 2010’s “Mechanize” that went back to their trademark sound of biomechanoid staccato drum work, start stop riffing, samples and of course, Bell’s hoarse vocals. For its follow up “The Industrialist”, Cazares and Bell decided to downsize the band and the use of a drum machine soon brought criticism for a seeming blandness in the album’s sound. Since then the duo have brought in Malignancy’s drummer Mike Heller to bring back that live sound and listening to his complex battery to the back end of “Genexus”, along with Cazare’s bass work using a custom-made Ibanez five-string there’s a definite return to the brutal days of “Demanufacture”! That being said, there is also an upbeat, positive feel to the album brought about by the strong live sound courtesy of long time collaborator Rhys Fulber, as well as massive amounts of groove, something the band have increasingly incorporated from their years of touring. Bell’s own vocals now features a degree of soulful singing and the electronic samples now include more futuristic elements as well as dance beats, again adding to that groove that should work a treat live. Listening to songs like ‘Soul Hacker’, ‘Autonomous Combat System’ and the refreshing closer ‘Expiration Date’, proves that Fear Factory can still be ground breaking. Overall, “Genexus” is aptly titled, being a fresh-ish start for Bell and Cazares and while demonstrating plenty of progression, definitely makes a statement that the band fans loved most in their heyday is still very much there.