Released: Feb 9, 2010
Genre: Industrial Metal, Groove Metal
Number Of Tracks: 10
Guitarist Dino Cazares is back in. Bassist-turned-guitarist Christian Olde Wolbers and drummer Ray Herrera are out. Vocalist Burton C. Bell is the only constant. Its a legal and logistical mess in Camp Fear Factory, but Mechanize harkens back to their heyday.
MechanizeFeatured review by: UG Team, on february 10, 2010 4 of 11 people found this review helpful
Sound: In 2002, portly guitarist Dino Cazares left Fear Factory. The band briefly broke up, only to reform sans Cazares, with bassist Christian Olde Wolbers taking over on guitar. Fear Factory, arguably one of the most over-achieving, extreme bands in metal, thanks to their cyber metal/industrial blend, released two albums with that lineup, and while Archetype and Transgression were quality albums, they weren't definitive, with the former being a bit more memorable than the latter. With Cazares gone, the band's profile and album sales fell. While that's also indicative of an ever-shifting music industry in the digital age, Fear Factory were not what they once were. Fast-forward to 2010: Olde Wolbers and Herrera, whose ammunition-like drumming is the backbone and hallmark of the band's sound, are out. Cazares is in. Indeed, Mechanize is more like 1998's Obsolete than any of the non-Cazares albums, so his songwriting influence is certainly felt upon his return. It's intense and, well, mechanized, with machine-like riffs that feel like bullets being popped off. It also keeps the Fear Factory tradition of futuristic metal alive; but in 2010, this style isn't quite so 21st century. It does sound a wee bit dated, but if your Fear Factory fandom runs so deep that it reached marrow, then the title track, Fear Campaign' and Christploitation' will remind you of classics like Pisschrist and Edgecrusher. The music manages to have that industrial sound without ever coming across as sterile or too cold. That was always Fear Factory's best trait and it's no different here on Mechanize. It is worth noting that the heat generated by Herrera's almost inhuman drumming is missed. // 9
Lyrics: Burton C. Bell barks with lungs and power that could rival any young turk half his age. He hasn't slowed down with age and it's not like he's struggling and croaking out his words. That could be a result of studio treatment, but he's surely robust. His melodic croon, which helped set Fear Factory about from other extreme bands and lent them an element of accessibility, is still here, as well, although not in as much abundance as his growling. Given the way Cazare's riffs mesh with Bell's singing, it's clear that Fear Factory work better with Cazares in the band than without. The lyrics follow the band's tradition of man vs. machine through and through; the sci-fi bend is still here. // 7
Overall Impression: Bell and Cazares demonstrate that there is still plenty of room left on the Fear Factory hard drive with Mechanize. It would be wonderful and please the fans to have Herrera and Olde Wolbers return to the fold, because imagine what a powerhouse they would or could be if reunited in full. No one is really talking about why Herrera and Olde Wolbers left and Cazares came back and if one caused the other. How that metallic drama unfolds remains to be seen, but if you have never moved on from Fear Factory's sound, which peaked in 1999-2000, then Mechanize will transport you to where you need to be. // 8
unregistered, on june 17, 2010 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: Fear Factory has been a driving force in the Metal genre for quite some time now, not only making some killer albums, but also withstanding the test of time both musically and during inner turmoil. Onlookers have seen the petty cheap shots in different interviews between Dino Cazares, Christian Olde Wolbers and the rest, but the band itself has kept on cranking out new albums and touring despite it all. It all depends on the person with the headphones on, but I know I'm not alone in the feeling that Fear Factory was better with Dino on the guitars instead of Christian. Dino even accused Christian at one point of "copying his style", but was happy so long as he kept getting royalties off of the songs he wrote. Be that as it may, there is a definite difference between the Fear Factory of the past, and the Fear Factory of today. That is, up until this recent album.
After the record label suppressed songs on Digimortal put Dino in an uncomfortable position musically, moving on to Divine Heresy and letting some anger and new guitar experiments out have helped him to round out his play style to sweeten his return to Fear Factory for a new album. This new album has been described as a missing ink between Demanufacture and Obsolete, and in many ways, that's absolutely true. But it's also clear that Dino took a piece of Divine Heresy with him when he returned to the studio with Fear Factory. Again, whether that's a good or a bad thing, depends on the listener. On the opening track, I was worried Dino had changed the direction of the band completely, until the chorus of 'Industrial Discipline' hit on track 2. All of my memories of speeding around in my car with the windows down, drums pounding and synth-laced chorus just came rushing back. My dearly missed Fear Factory has come back to me. And it feels great. The touches of Divine Heresy are heard in the aggression and speed of the drums and guitar, but luckily aren't overdone (usually) to the point where the album no longer retains the bands roots. The music sounds familiar but refreshing with Gene Hoglan on drums, and while I feel sad to see the original lineup split (again), they couldn't have picked a more suitable replacement. I find that sticking to your roots while trying to explore new avenues musically is a big problem with the bands of today, and Fear Factory managed to get the formula right with 'Mechanize'. Props, guys. Props. // 8
Lyrics: While a lot of the lyrics may seem not a whole lot different than their previous efforts when giving them a quick read, looking into the context and back story of the album and certain tracks reveal what this album is truly about. The majority of the songs here are heavily based around a book from author Alvin Toffler, describing his theory on the evolution of human kind from the "2nd wave" of human civilization the Industrial Age, to the "3rd wave" or Post-Industrial/ Information age. The basic principle of moving further and further away from the human element in day to day living. This rings very true if looked at from a philosophical perspective. Therefore, I find the meaning of this album extremely deep and inspired. Burton C Bell has done a damn fine job is keeping himself in good singing shape year after year.
The UG featured review does mention the possibility of him being auto-tuned possibly, when it comes to the album. And while I'm sure there was a bit of that going on in the production booth, recent live performances suggest (again, as stated by the UG featured review) he can still keep pace with other youngster Metal vocalists. He performs very powerful yells, and fairly strong, albeit sometimes in and out of tune choruses. Considering I'd probably snap my vocal chords clean in half by trying to scream like he does, he's still in good standing with me. As far as the lyrics working with the music; This band has been around the block a few times. They know how it's done, and it shows. // 9
Overall Impression: As mentioned earlier, Dino definitely took a piece of Divine Heresy with him when he left that band to re-unite with Fear Factory. I don't necessarily see it as a bad thing, and open-minded newcomers who have never listened to Fear Factory before probably won't have a problem with it. Certain hardcore fans of Fear Factory who either hate any Fear Factory songs that weren't off of Demanufacture/Remanufacture and Obsolete may be intolerant of change, and unfortunately, there is some change on this album. This also applies to the other side of the coin, where fans of the post-Dino Cazares era won't be used to this style of play and might hate it. Being a fan of several different Metal sub-genres have a slightly more "open mind", if you can call it that and have respect and appreciation for every album this band has done. But that being said, I do have my favorites out of their entire catalog. If I had to compile a top 3 list of my favorite Fear Factory albums, this album would land in spot #2.
Just behind Demanufacture but above Obsolete. I'm a sucker for my first love, but 'Mechanize' gives that album a damn good run for its money, and by no means comes up short. It's all up to the individuals ears. A definite buy for people who love Industrial Metal, Fear Factory, or anything brutal with some mellow choruses so the drums and speed picking don't PERMANENTLY wreck your ear drums. I'm looking at you, members of Divine Heresy. // 8