As respected journalist Dom Lawson (Metal Hammer and The Guardian) will tell you, Los Angeles’ Fear Factory are one of the most important metal bands of all time. Their unique barrage of industrial-laden metal with a blend of harsh and clean vocals laid the groundwork for later industrial acts, as well as the incredibly popular nu-metal scene that gave birth to bands such as Korn and Slipknot. No band that sought to replicate Fear Factory’s sound has ever come close. They lack the conviction, the access to the power grid that Fear Factory draws their vicious cyber sounds from, all while the industrial progenitors surge forward with their newest release, Genexus.
Refreshingly fantastic, Genexus is something Fear Factory fans had been desperately calling for after 2012’s The Industrialist fell flat with its somewhat slothful approach (using a drum machine, for example). Fans wanted, and the band needed, a live drummer (or two, in this case Mike Heller and Deen Castronovo), and more inventive song writing. Genexus has both of these, but also brings with it a gargantuan shockwave of atmospheric melody that had arguably not been seen since 1998’s Obsolete. Thanks to the album’s excellent sound design it can be heard with full force, while accommodating for Dino Cazares’ ripping guitar riffs that helped form Fear Factory’s distinctive style.
One of the exciting parts of Genexus is how it seems to pregressively improve with every track. The title track acts as the vanguard to succession upon succession of some of the best material Fear Factory have designed for years. ‘Regenerate’ and ‘Battle For Utopia’ serve up yet more of this satisfying formula, while the final track, ‘Expiration Date’, is a journey into realms last seen with Obsolete’s final track, ‘Timelessness’, with no harsh vocals whatsoever from frontman Burton C. Bell. The effort the band have achieved with this album is, quite frankly, amazing, if not something that hasn’t been seen before. It carries with it the familiar sounds of 2010’s Mechanize and the songs have, gradually been transformed into entities more accessible to new listeners, sacrificing some of the elements of Fear Factory’s earlier works that made them so interesting. The track ‘Soul Hacker’ is particularly guilty of this, with its fairly basic delivery.
Genexus rises above these shortcomings quite easily, however. It takes no prisoners with its impressive, authoritarian presence. The combination of rich, harmonious atmosphere and aggressive, well-oiled and mechanical macho demonstrates that Fear Factory are still the frontrunners of their genre and ride the biggest wave of their cutting edge design.
Genexus is out now on Nuclear Blast Records.