Album Review: Fear Factory - The Industrialist

29 May 2012 | 5:58 pm | Brendan Crabb

In the ‘90s, critics dubbed Fear Factory “futuristic metal” or “cyber-metal”. More than a decade on, one supposes now they’re merely “metal”.

If Ridley Scott decides to make a Blade Runner sequel after he's revisited Alien territory, there's a ready-made heavy metal soundtrack in The Industrialist. As the famed director is rediscovering his roots, Fear Factory does much the same, delving further into the sci-fi genesis of 1995's monumental landmark Demanufacture.

This concept album again explores the man-versus-machine idea. However, while past records have been from the human's perspective, this takes cues from the automaton, a robot. Musically, the new platter sits firmly between Demanufacture and 1998's Obsolete.

It doesn't offer many new elements, but packs adequate aggression, hooks and ominous Rhys Fulber-assisted soundscapes to elude being a mere retread of past glories. The opening title track sets a bruising, mechanical tone, while Recharger, Difference Engine and New Messiah feature trademark Burton C. Bell soaring choruses. Gene Hoglan has been replaced by programmed drums but, considering their cold, clinical signature sound, said parts don't differentiate much from the precise foundations of yore. Axeman Dino Cazares has only ever had a handful of staccato riffs in his arsenal – but what riffs they are – and devises interesting new phrasings and reinterpretations. Unfortunately it ends flatly. Interlude Religion Is Flawed Because Man Is Flawed's a passable breather, but bloated nine-minute closer Human Augmentation, a cacophony of industrial clanking, is less appealing. If it's an answer to Demanufacture's A Therapy For Pain it sounds like halfway through the band forgot the question.

In the '90s, critics dubbed Fear Factory “futuristic metal” or “cyber-metal”. More than a decade on, one supposes now they're merely “metal”. Regardless, this is a satisfying, if not overly challenging listen.

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