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Fear Factory - Soul of a New Machine

1992 Roadrunner Records :: Reviewed by skeksis on 2005-09-17

It's hard to believe its been 13 years since this came out. When SoaNM was released, the death metal glut was in full swing, and every band either sounded like Obituary, Morbid angel, or Deicide. Every band was either on Nuclear Blast or Roadrunner (Relapse pretty much sucked back than) and production courtesy or Scott Burns. Lets not forget the obligatory Dan Seagrave cover. Than FF came out with a shit kicker of a record and nothing was the same. Yes, I like this band, a lot. But, taken in context, Soul was an extremely unique record for its time. Pretty much inventing the staccato guitar/drums lock down, what separated Soul from the rest was the death growl/clean vocal dichotomy. No band at the time was doing it, although its become standard practice now. Soul of a New Machine differed from their following release as they were still incorporating a lot of grind and hints of Godflesh. In my opinion, Fear Factory changed the entire scheme of things when this sucker dropped and claimed a sound all their own that you really could duplicate without being tagged clones. An essential release in my book. as a footnote, Roadrunner released a remastered version recently that sounds the freakin same, so other than the liner notes, stick with the original if you got it.

Fear Factory - Demanufacture

1995 Roadrunner Records :: Reviewed by skeksis on 2005-09-29

This is were it all came together, the FF boys hitting their stride and redefining an entire genre. Vocalist Burton C. Bell slightly altering his previously Barney Greenway like roar to a slightly more palatable Max Cavelera growl, probably in a move to distance the band from the death and grind scene which was going down hill around the time. Drum machine Raymond Herrera locking perfectly in-sync with sole guitarist (at the time, since replaced by Christian Olde Wolbers), the duo perfecting their machine like rhythms. New addition Christian on bass lays down a solid foundation for the music to crush. The man versus machine theme is predominate throughout, and the music only adds to the feeling. Absolutely crushing (there's that word again) production courtesy of Colin Richardson, the man turning in what could be his best production to date (maybe second only to Burn my Eyes). Whether you like the band or not, it's hard to ignore the effect this band and this album in particular had on the metal scene as a whole. Nothing souned like them than and no band can crib their sound without sounding like a blatant rip-off. Unfortunatly they started to lose the plot on subsequent albums.

Fear Factory - Digital Connectivity DVD

2002 RoadRunner Records :: Reviewed by skeksis on 2005-10-10

I will always remember being a senior in high school and buying Fear Factory';s debut ';Soul of a New Machine'; on cassette. That record made such an impression on me that I practically wore the tape out from playing it non-stop the remainder of the school year. When ';Demanufacture'; was released, it was the only thing that ever got played in my first car. Now that Fear Factory has released their first home video/DVD, I have a feeling that this disc is going to sit in the DVD player for quite some time. The DVD contains bootleg live footage from all four releases, as well as all of their videos. In between the music, you get the obligatory band commentary and history as well as the horseplay that goes on while on tour. All though I dig the ';fan cam'; type of Cliff ';em all footage, Fear Factory';s music is all about precision and it really needs that type of sound you can only get from a professionally shot concert. Its also lacking the onstage kind of shots that put you on the stage with the band. A few of the songs suffer from such a muddy sound that it renders their trademark staccato riffing a blur. Than again, this DVD maybe the closest I';ll get to seeing them play live here in Hawaii! One thing of interest was watching the development of the band. As mentioned before, ';Soul-'; will forever rank up their as one of the most important records in metal to me, but the live footage of that era shows a band still developing their style. Vocalist Burton C. Bell in particular sounds a bit unsure when the clean notes are sung (like the intro to Scum Grief or Martyr). He nails the growls, but goes way off tune (and I really mean way off tune) on the clean stuff. As the band progresses, you can hear his voice become more powerful live. Raymond Herrera';s double bass footwork is so unbelievably precise, like a jackhammer nailing every rhythm, every beat. He's not the flashiest drummer out there (you could name the total amount of drum rolls he';s done on all four LP';s on one lepers hand-zero), but he has definitely got to be one of the fastest. Than there';s Dino of course, who is the epitome of simplified metal guitar playing. Although their latest release ';Digimortal'; is garnering the least amount of spins from their catalog in my player and ';Digital Connectivity'; isn';t changing that opinion any time soon, it did give me a newfound interest in ';Obsolete';. In any event, ';Digital Connectivity'; will be sure to please their existing fans while we wait for LP number five.

Fear Factory - Archetype

2004 Liquid 8 Records :: Reviewed by Skeksis on 2005-07-12


Of the two of us on the RoR staff, I’m the big Fear Factory fan and have been ever since Soul of a New Machine came out. Although the quality of their recorded output began to wane after Demanufacture, I still followed the bands music none the less. Like many I cringed upon hearing Digimortal yet felt disappointed when their dissolution was announced shortly after the release of their Digital Connectivity DVD. I always thought they had a few more good albums in them and with their reformation and subsequent release of Archetype; my affection for the band was vindicated. The much heralded return to form is classic FF. Drummer Raymond Herrera never sound more machine like or precise and locks down perfectly with the guitars on cuts like Slave Labor and Act of God. Burton C. Bell has simply never sounded better. His rougher vocals have lost some of their power from the bands heyday but do the job quite effectively. His clean vocals have never been as good as this though. Often purposely off key-his clean vocals previously merely contrasted with the starkness of the music, but on the title track (simply one of FF’s best songs, bar none) and the haunting Human Shields, Burtons vocals soar with a power and emotion not heard on any previous FF record. Chunky-D’s …uh, Dino’s departure and subsequent replacement in bassist Christian Olde Wolbers promotion hasn’t proven to be a detriment in the slightest. In fact, had you not known about the dissention in the racks, you be hard pressed to tell anything has changed. If anything has, it’s the fat (no pun intended) has been deleted from a band whose compositions where the epitome of stripped down. The songs are blunt and straight and to the point, and the entire better for. Drawbacks? A few. The production is a bit dry and processed (think …And Justice for All) and could use a little bottom end. And although I still bought both versions, I still think it sucks to release more then one version of an album with exclusive content (nee DVD) that the fans have to either decide on which version to buy or get them both. Still, a fantastic return to form from one of my all time favorite bands. And like they say on Cyberwaste “Nothing! You say! Matters! To us!” Welcome back boys. Now don’t screw up the follow up.

Fear Factory - Transgression

2005 Calvin/Liquid 8 records :: Reviewed by skeksis on 2005-09-14

Boy, this one lit up those message boards. Being a huge FF fan from the beginning, let me just get this one thing out of the way. I hate the production on this record. I hate it big time. It doesn't belong on a FF record, "big" name producer or not (Toby Wright). FF were always about being clinical, cold and precises. Toby Wrights production makes FF sound too organic. Sure, the instruments can breathe a bit more but it ends up making the record sound softer than it should. It keeps me up at night thinking that this would sound like if Andy Sneap produced this! OK, now that's off my chest, the album itself is actually not that bad. By no means an essential release, it sees the FF boys in new waters. Bassist turn guitarist Christian Olde Wolbers has the unenviable job of trying to keep Fear Factory's trademark sound intact while trying to move the group and expand on it. By no means a departure, it does have influences that really seemed to have pissed off the hardcore (nee closed minded) fans. I like it. The title track has a catchy main riff, and the closing track "Moment of Impact" is simply vicious. But that doesn't mean I also don't get a kick of the extremely melodic tracks like "Echo of my Scream" and "New Promise". Its these two tracks that Toby Wrights production work, letting the keys in beautifully, but not on the other tracks. I also question the need to include two cover tracks, U2's "I Will Follow" and Killing Jokes "Millennium", especially the latter. Why do a cover track if your going to play it almost exactly like the original??? That track more than any could have used a bit of FF's signature sound than any, yet it ends up sounding like a better produced version of the original. The band has been quoted as saying this is their experimental record, but it still holds its core sound. I'm interested to see where they go from here. Did I mention there is a...gasp...lead in there?! I found this enjoyable none the less.