Sound — 8
Fear Factory is back (sort of) again with a brand new record which was slated to be a continuation of "Mechanize", a return to the concept record, which I believe can set a band up for success if the lyrical writers have a visionary quality to them, and in this case, Burton C. Bell and Dino Cazares don't disappoint. I say they are "sort of" back because this record is written and performed largely by Bell and Cazares themselves. A lot of people either don't know, or maybe simply forgot that Gene Hoglan has already exited stage left from Fear Factory and the new drummer for their record is a drum machine (which does quite a good job, actually). To give a human credit though, their drum tech and programmer John Sankey wrote the drums for their demo cut, and were then polished and recorded using the drum machine. I feel that to any musician with a good ear for percussion, you can hear that the drums have a mathematical feel to them, which is the real "computer" part of the drum machine. But because of Fear Factory's technical drumming throughout the year, and this particular records message; this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Dino does a wonderful job with guitars writing inspired rifts on some of the guitars and doing a little bit of lead work, similar to their last effort "Mechanize". He can also be credited to writing and recording the bass for this album which I think he did a good job of. Burton's classic vocal style of having shorter chants or singing choruses with a reverb effect (which I think is still awesome even more than a decade of their music) mixed with his rough yells is back, and sounds as though he hasn't aged at all since "Demanufacture" which is a good sign for the potential of future albums. I don't find there to be much innovation as far as how their music "works", as some critics have cited, but I'm a fan, and as far as I'm concerned; pile it on. I love what they're doing, and I want to hear more of it. I think the perfect Fear Factory record is still "Demanufacture", but much like their efforts "Obsolete" or "Mechanize", this is a very strong album and can easily carry them all the way to another release, even if it takes them a few years.
Lyrics — 7
"Deprivation has been forced on me I am losing all of my memories They are nothing more to me than a dream I reject all visions of reality" -Track 5 The whole album is once again, a concept album, so the preconceived notion that most if not all of the songs are about mechanical and computer industrialization of our planet would be absolutely correct. Burton and Dino make our current world state and future world state (should we survive another 50-100 years without a nuclear war) look bleak and soulless, which is what those lyrics seem to represent. Technological simulations of things are the new reality, and we are losing our souls, the essence of what makes us human through the technology we use every day. Scary, but food for thought. This album doesn't have a dynamic message for each song so I can't score it a 10 for being hugely complex and diverse, but it's a good concept and it does say something to me, as mentioned above, so it's definitely a solid album in regards to lyrics.
Overall Impression — 8
As I said earlier, this comes closest to their previous album, "Mechanize". It's built around a similar concept, fits with the bands theme of combining electronics with standard metal fare and continues their exploration with concept albums. It's hard to compare Fear Factory with other metal bands accurately. You could argue that Divine Heresy is similar due to Dino's guitar playing and the fact that their lead singer more or less copies Burton C. Bell's style, but I don't think they were an adequate substitute for Fear Factory. You could also argue that Nine Inch Nails or Cell Dweller does a good job of combining rock/metal with electronics. And they do. But they don't have the same sort of bite that Fear Factory does. I think they're really a unique band, have been ahead of their time musically since the beginning, and are proof that the Industrial Metal genre still has momentum if it's done right. Some of the songs on this album are a little drawn out (songs with long times can be good, but I think a couple of these tracks were stretched to their limit), and some of the intros can be annoying (I'm looking at you "God Eater") but it has some of the crushing metal sound that Fear Factory's been serving up since the 90's with an electronic twist, and as said earlier, I like it; and I look forward to more. It would definitely be worth a re-buy if taken for any Fear Factory fan, and this album could even be one that makes new fans too.