Sound — 7
This album is very well produced. The guitars all have a deep low end that cuts straight through the mix, but the producer was careful so that not a single instrument is inaudible. You can actually hear bass as well! The album is mixed well, and I really like their sound. There are well placed ambient effects put over these heavy riffs, and it creates an effect that is generally unsettling. In terms of musicianship of the band members, the drummer blows me away, the way he can keep up with the riffs Dino (guitarist/bassist) puts together. I know it is nothing new for metal drums, but it's impressive nevertheless. Unfortunately, many of the riffs on this album seem to sound the same: single note patterns of one to about seven or thick chord chugs, taking some influence from odd places such as melodic metal (without the virtuosity) and metalcore. It really makes these tracks kind of meld together, but I can tell they were intended to be listened to as separate songs. It really let me down. I mean, the riffs are good, but they aren't very original for Fear Factory. They seem to be pulling a "Meshuggah" (endlessly refining and perfecting their one sound, not trying many things new), however where Meshuggah were technically genius, with their shifting time signatures and odd syncopation, Fear Factory plays mostly (if not always) in 4/4, and does nothing to innovate from its past efforts. In terms of individual tracks, the one I like the most is "God Eater", with this very "Halloween Theme"-esque intro, with creepy chanting and a dissonant guitar riff. Overall, the sound of this album is excellent, with nicely mixed tracks and cool sound effects, such as industrial tools (screwdrivers, drills, etc.). It creates a very industrial (fitting, huh? ) and metallic sound to this LP. However, it's just not a very creative LP, nor does it really push the limits of what Fear Factory can do.
Lyrics — 5
Lyrics and subject matter are where this album falls apart for me. I know there is a whole story with this album about this sentient being the "Industrialist", but I don't hear that in this album. All I hear lyrically and subject matter-wise from most of these tracks is either "God/Religion sucks and it's the plague of humanity" and other blatant anti-religious messages ("New Messiah", "God Eater", "Virus Of Faith", "Religion Is Flawed Because Man Is Flawed") or government conspiracy type stuff that has to do with the government hunting the "Industrialist" down (while he was a person) and mechanically altering him to become a machine man/robot, or with government-sponsored fear tactics and discrimination ("The Industrialist", "Recharger", "Difference Engine", "Disassemble", "Human Augmentation"), with one track about the "Industrialist" being brainwashed ("Depraved Mind Murder"). I understand that this LP is a "concept album", but that does not excuse the fact that I don't expect as much preachiness that I get from this LP. I get messages of "The government is going to brainwash and kill us all", or "Religion is poisoning our minds and destroying our societies!". It's really tiring. Singer's skills? What can you say? He death growls some (it's OK) and he sings some (that's decent as well). He is average overall.
Overall Impression — 7
Overall, I have a very mixed opinion on this album. Some songs really get me going and hit straight on the mark ("God Eater", "Recharger", "Virus Of Faith"), while others are VERY, VERY, TERRIBLY OFF ("Human Augmentation", "Difference Engine"). "Human Augmentation" is honestly one of the worst, most anti-climactic ways to end an album I've ever heard. It is 9:05 minutes of straight, arduous ambience that bores you to death, and it just drones on, and on, and on, and on, and on... It seems to never stop. There's dreary production, boring whispering, and overall the track is very dull and lacking any exciting elements. I like how the track has industrial sound effects, like steam, pipes, and even radio static at some points. It sounds like it was recorded in a haunted factory which was thought to be permanently broken, and everything just started working out of nowhere, along with ghost voices. A good atmosphere, I admit. However, "Human Augmentation" would have worked if it was 3 minutes long. It is three times that long, which I think is a terrible, terrible way to end an album. The song is what is most recent in your mind, and it is a boring, drawn out, drab, and slow track. Had they ended with "God Eater" or something in that vein, This album would have gotten at least an 8, but for now, I'd give it a 7/10, because this is pretty good, but I want to see what Fear Factory can REALLY do. I want to see them push their playing abilities and musical boundaries as far as they possibly can. Overall, not a bad album, but there are way too many songs that are simply not needed, that sound the same as each other, that don't bring anything new to the Fear Factory discography. They can do much better.