Games Meet Metal: Fear Factory's "Mechanize": Evan's Review

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fear Factory's "Mechanize": Evan's Review

“Demanufacture” is the Fear Factory album. Every successive release (including the commendable “Obsolete” and “Archetype”) have paled in comparison to the futuristic metal that defined FF's 1995 masterwork. Obligatory flirtings with nu-metal, and the loss of riff-architect Dino Cazares kept these guys from ever quite getting back to that perfect mix of industrial sounds, mechanical riffs and memorable hooks.

That said, their newest effort “Mechanize” is their best in years. If this release proves anything, it’s the importance of Dino Cazares to Fear Factory’s song-writing and overall vibe. One would think that the advent of Pro Tools would make a guitarist like Dino, known largely for his precision, obsolete (pun-power). If everyone can be filtered through a computer to sound like a machine then what does Dino really have to offer? His return goes hand in hand with many Fear Factory memes that have been lost, or poorly copied. Apparently there’s no substitution for the real thing. Dino doesn’t just sound like a machine, he sounds like a T-1000 with a guitar.

The inclusion of Gene Hoglan on drums doesn’t hurt either. Drummer Ray Herrera has been instrumental to Fear Factory’s sound over the years, but Hoglan is more than capable of filling his shoes. And Hoglan doesn’t merely copy, he brings his own pummeling feel to the mix, giving FF an absolutely brutal groove that they’ve always lacked. Much of this change can be attributed to Hoglan’s thicker drum sounds and decidedly more straight-ahead snare work. In any case, it’s hard to see Ray go, but it’s harder to not absolutely love Gene Hoglan.

“Mechanize” isn’t anything new for Fear Factory, and that’s why it rules. A ‘Return to form’ in metal may be a cliche, but it’s exactly what this album is. Songs like “Powershifter” echo “Replica,” while “Industrial Discipline” could be a sequel to “Descent.” The album is Fear Factory fan-service, a trip down a post-apocalyptic memory lane littered with the remains of a world before the machines.

"Mechanize" is currently available in its entirety via stream on the band's myspace.

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