Released: 2010, Candlelight Records
It’s incredible to think that DEMANUFACTURE – almost certainly Fear Factory’s defining moment – is these days fast approaching the mean age of your average gig-goer. More sobering still is the thought that around the time of that disc’s release, Fear Factory were gleefully acknowledged as THE band to hoist the metal genre on to their considerable shoulders and carry it into the 21st century. What happened next is a matter of storied public record of course, all amounting to one major niggle: ego.
Oft imitated since but never bettered, Fear Factory have no one but themselves to blame for their collective failure to live up to the expectations that so many had for them. From the nu-metal baiting muck of DIGIMORTAL to the rampant in-fighting that followed, through to the shambles that was 2005’s TRANSGRESSION, it’s now highly unlikely that Fear Factory will ever again enjoy the levels of goodwill they may have had a decade ago - a shame really, as their latest is actually pretty darned impressive.
Written and recorded in the shadow of their latest legal squabbles that ultimately saw both Christian Olde Wolbers and drummer Raymond Herrera make way for Gene Hoglan and the return of founder member, Dino Cazares, MECHANIZE plays like the bastard son of DEMANUFACTURE and OBSOLETE in everything from its occasionally weighty song structures, through to its jagged production. The absence of both Wolbers and Herrera goes virtually unnoticed, and only the most studious will note that Hoglan is in the fact the superior sticksman. As for Wolbers – let’s just say that it soon becomes glaringly apparent that Fear Factory has always been Dino Cazares’ baby. This record has the riffs, the hooks, the impossibly catchy choruses – goddamnit, it has the SONGS that this band have been missing for the better part of the last decade.
At its very best (major highlights include “Christploitation”, “Fear Campaign” and “Designing The Enemy” in this writer’s opinion), proceedings never quite manage to scale the creative apex of classics like “Pisschrist” or “Replica”. It does come very close however, and it does a spectacular job of making up for what really amounts to three albums worth of solid crap that fans have had to put up with. It’s also leagues ahead of Arkaea’s latest effort, a record Wolbers and Herrera insist was to be the next Fear Factory full-length. If you’re a fan, those two points alone should be all you need to send you cartwheeling your way to the nearest music store.