It is hard to believe it has already been 3 years since the excellent The Industrialist was released by a reformed, repaired and reignited Fear Factory. The industrial metal pioneers are back again with their 9th studio album in Genexus and first under the powerhouse of Nuclear Blast Records and in the year Demanufacture hits its 25 year anniversary, I am expecting very big things.
Fear Factory formed in 1989 in America with an initial line up of Dino Cazares, Raymond Herrera and Burton C. Bell. They released their first material in 1991 in an album called Concrete. Legendary metaller, Max Cavalera, then of Sepultura recommended the band top Roadrunner Records and Fear Factory had their first contract. All was good with the band as they released a steady stream of material that included the albums Demanufacture and Obsolete until around 2001 after the release of Digimortal. Despite being received well, the band felt they had been pushed too hard by Roadrunner Records to tone down their sound and generate better record sales. Rifts appeared within the band and they announced they were to split soon after. Roadrunner then released Hatefiles and rereleased Concrete without the band’s permission citing “contractual obligations” as their right… Fear Factory reformed a few years later without Dino Cazares, the founding member and released Archetype, which again was received relatively well. The band, then under a new label called Calvin Records, were given a ridiculous deadline of 6 weeks to record a new album which to us became Transgression. The band have gone on record stating they were unhappy with it as it was released unfinished. More infighting followed this and the band again split. A few years passed and they one again reformed with just Dino and Burton as original members this time, much to anger of Christian Olde Wolbers and Raymond Herrera who started legal proceedings against Dino and Burton as they felt the band name shouldn’t be used without them. In terms of sound though, the newest and current line-up, including Tony Campos on bass, has come closest to capturing the true essence of the early days Fear Factory and after an excellent Mechanize and a fantastic The Industrialist, we arrive at the latest reborn chapter, Genexus.
Genexus was released on the 7th of August 2015. It has 10 tracks on it in total although there is a version available which has 2 bonus tracks on it as well. The album is just under 48 minutes long in total. Unlike The Industrialist, the band has brought back a live drummer for much of this album in Mike Heller and also, Deen Catstranova for the track Soul Hacker.
The first song is called Autonomous Combat System and is 5 and a half minutes long. It starts off with machine effects and a spoken word section about machine evolution before the guitars bring in a drawn out riff. The song soon explodes into typical furiously fast riffing and drums over Burtons angry vocals though they sound a little less vicious then I remember. The chorus is sung melodically rather than in a death metal style. It is quite a rhythmic speed to the track and while it is a good start, it doesn’t really hit the heights you come to expect from a Fear Factory opening track.
Anodized is up next and starts with a keyboard effect over that machine like tapping drum used so well by Fear Factory, the riff kicks in over shouts of “ANODIZED”. Shouted verses and beautifully sung choruses are the order of the day again. The guitars match the vocals in tempo through the verse and the chorus is very catchy and singable. It is all very low toned and chugging in the verses and feels a heavier song. Much preferred effort to the first track though again I don’t know if I have set my hopes to high, but it doesn’t quite reach them.
Dielectric is the 3rd track on the album. It has a very cool intro with an effect that sounds like a cello playing a neat little riff that soon builds into a more synthetic effect and then jumps into a guitar playing the same riff. It’s quite a traditional Fear Factory track in the sense that it follows the heavy vocals in the verse and clean vocals in the chorus. It isn’t as brutally fast as they can be at times but is really catchy as a track which follows a pretty repetitive loop of riffing but with various different effects quietly playing in the background. Burton’s vocals, especially in the heavy parts, are particularly impressive here. Good, but not great, song.
Soul Hacker is up next and is a short track at just over 3 mins long as well as being a pretty cool name for a song. It’s quite a catchy, bouncy affair which has more than a little Digimortal era in it. It is far from the heavier tracks on the album but not in a bad way at all. Instead it shows that the band are smart enough to pull on all their resiources and experience built up over the years and it breaks up the album nicely. It’s a rhythmic number that has a great balance of shouted and sung lyrics and even a little guitar solo near the end. Good stuff.
Protomech comes next and starts with a chugging riff and speedy drum blasts that build in intensity. They are joined by some of the harsher and heavier vocals on the album that are sung to match the chugging riff. As the chorus hits with melodic sung vocals, a keyboard effect joins in to add more drama to the track. The chorus itself is eally catchy and absolutely drags me back to Demanufacture in it’s styling. The vocals are sung quicker in the second verse, followed by a short effect solo that kind of sounds like violins before that exceptional chorus hits again. The song ends with a melodic piano outro to add a real epic feel to what is the best track on the album so far.
Title track Genexus is up next and again takes a leaf out of the Demanufacture book. In particular that actual title track as it starts with bass drums that then get joined by guitars and effects in layers. The vocals are very heavy here through the verses and even the chorus, though there is some clean singing, feels heavier as it is punctuated with growls and shouts. There are lots of industrial elements to this track too with effects following the guitars throughout. A little slow down happens near the end with a very short spoken sentence that is repeated a couple times saying “that’s what it is to be a slave” before it bursts back into the chorus again. Speedy guitars and drums play a riff out to the end with a mix of clean singing and shouted lyrics. A decent effort but not as good as Protomech.
Church of Execution comes 7th on the album and is really good. It starts off with pure industrial effects that sound very ominous before a stop start riff along with drums takes the level up a bit. The verse is just Burton over a bass line that kicks in for the second section of the verse with real agression but oozing rhythm still. The chorus is shouted, rather than sung and the guitars sound much cleaner than normally expected throughout the chorus. The same pattern is repeated for the second verse. After the seond chorus, the song builds in speed and agression with lyrics spat out hastily pretty much until it fades out at the end. Really good track.
Regenerate is up next and within a few seconds you get the sense this song is going to be huge. The intro is so catchy with a long drawn out effect over rhythmic drums and guitars. The riffs in the verse are fast but stop/start and Burton soundsd really strong here. Not the heaviest Fear Factory material at all but again that just serves to keep the album fresh. It feels a little like Resurrection or Descent from the Obsolete days. The song does pick up the agression near the end along with a shout of “You Can’t Kill Me” before it plays out with the catchiest chorus on the album so far mixed with Burton pushing his melodic singing into higher notes. Excellent song.
Battle For Utopia comes next and starts off with mechanical effects before being joined by blasts of drums and guitars. The drums and guitars soon become the prominent instruments but play over a haunting keyboard effect that adds a feeling of epicness to the tracks beginnings. A furiously heavy verse follows with really intense lyrics and music. The chorus switches to melodic singing but over the same fast paced music. Intermittent moments of blazing drums over that keyboard line are quite spectacular and when softly sung vocals join it until the end, it makes for a really special track.
The final track on the album is called Expiration Date and is by far the longest on the album at just under 9 minutes long. It starts with a distorted/muffled piano intro that are soon joined by harmonic guitars. The verse is sung in the softest of Burton’s vocals over just a bass. The chorus, while still soft and melodic, sees the muffled piano and guitars join in to add some volume. The second verse sticks with the soft vocals but adds some effects and light drums over the bass line. The chorus again picks up a little and is really singable. The whole track is a thing of beauty really that fades out after 5 minutes to just a few individual piano notes being played and spoken words such as “It’s a shame you won’t live, but then, who does”. The song is packed full of goosebumps moments like this. With around 2 minutes left, and the song still playing with effects, intensity ramps up as machine noises (terminator esque) start being repeated over a sinister keyboard effect. This contiunes until the end where, like it’s title suggests, the song and album reaches it’s end. Great track in the veins of Final Exit, though less heavy. Genuinely is a thing of beauty.
I have to admit that while first listening to the album, I was thinking it would end up with a score of 6.5 or 7 out of 10 based purely on that the first three tracks were really nothing special but the quality that exists in the tracks that follow is pretty special. There are some fantastic songs on this album with special mention going to Expiration Date, Regenerate and Protomech but there are also some very good tracks there too. The band sound great and Burton is singing as well as he ever has. My only issue is with the first three tracks that, with a reshuffle would sit comfortably as filler but having them as the first things you hear can be disappointing. A really good album overall though and it is great to see them happily taking influence from all of their back catalogue. Good stuff!
Fear Factory - Genexus (Nuclear Blast)