Fear Factory – Mechanize/ Re-Industrialized – Reissues
Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 23/06/23
Running Time: Mechanize: 56:00
Review by Rory Bentley
Despite doing most of their creative growth in the 90s where seminal works like “Soul of A New Machine”, “Demanufacture” and “Obsolete” genuinely changed the game, Fear Factory have been a remarkably consistent band throughout their storied and rather tumultuous career. Aside from the two albums without Dino Cazrares, one of which was patchy, the other pretty terrible, I like and enjoy everything in their catalogue. I’ll always go to bat for “Digimortal”, for example when people are moaning that it sounds like Nu-Metal- it does sound like Nu-Metal and there’s nothing wrong with that you melts! The point is despite all the behind-the-scenes legal battles and very public mudslinging, latter day Fear Factory albums have not suffered, and these two rather fabulous reissues are proof of that. We’ll begin by looking at the new version of “Mechanize” as it’s a more straight-forward rerelease before we get into the meat of the review with the shiny new upgraded version of “The Industrialist”.
In 2010 Dino Cazares and singer Burton C Bell squashed their beef and reformed Fear Factory anew, switching out bassist Christian Olde Wolbers and drummer Raymond Herrera for the superstar rhythm section of Strapping Young Lad’s Gene Hoglan and Byron Stroud on drums and bass respectively. While this line-up only lasted for the one album, what an album it turned out to be. A lean mean 45-minute beast of a record that boils down the most beloved aspects of Fear Factory to its most potent core elements. The opening title track is devastatingly brutal, with Bell sounding more fired up than he had in years and Cazares’ Terminator right hand brought that classic crunch to the party. Meanwhile Hoglan brings a technical mastery and extremity that kicked things up another notch in a Post-Meshuggah environment where the bar for machine-like precision had been raised significantly. This jugular-ripping approach is carried over the whole record and even 13 years later it still feels at the very apex of brutal, punishing Metal with a mainstream bent.
Musical chops are one thing, but the song writing is so on point throughout, with the bleak rapid-fire croon of ‘Industrial Discipline’ ranking amongst the upper end of Fear Factory bangers. The same goes for the bass-pedal blurring ‘Powershift’ which seamlessly transitions from savage mechanical intensity to a cyborg-arms-in-the-air chorus. They even nail the customary solemn closing track that we all look for in a good Fear Factory album with the haunting, ambient, and melancholic ‘Final Exit’ where Burton gets to emote and serenade us in a way that we all wish he could pull off live.
What the album lacks in innovation it more than makes up for in immaculate execution. Sometimes a band has to give the people what they want and it’s not fair to expect artist that have truly changed the game to constantly reinvent the wheel. “Mechanize” is perfect as it is, taking the approach of giving all the Fear Factory copyist a reminder of who the Daddies are. As far as bonus content goes it’s relatively slim pickings, with rerecorded versions of “Soul Of A New Machine” classics ‘Martyr’ and ‘Crash Test’ as well as “Concrete” deep-cut ‘Sangre de Ninos’ offering interesting yet inessential curios for completist like me. The most intriguing thing I founds was hearing Burton’s fully developed vocal style across these numbers, rather than the more guttural Death Metal approach he took in the early days, like I say it won’t supersede the originals but it’s a cool little bonus for superfans.
Conversely “The Industrialist” in its “Re-Industrialized” format sees the 2012 concept album get a full facelift, with a brand-new mix and the programmed drums being replaced by live drums courtesy of Mike Heller. I remember being slightly disappointed with the album when it originally dropped, feeling that it was a step down from “Mechanize”, however I did eventually warm to it and appreciate its more expansive nature and the band’s willingness to experiment within the parameters of the classic FF sound. This 2023 reboot gives these songs the mix and percussive heft they deserve, and subsequently becomes the definitive version of the record.
It is immediately apparent on the opening title track that this production facelift was a great idea, with the more sweeping almost movie score aspects given extra punch and polish and of course the live drums sounding absolutely massive. Likewise heads-down banger ‘Recharge’ massively benefits from a more analogue arrangement with the frenetic drumming of Heller blurring the line beautifully between human rage and mechanical precision. Burton’s vocals also feel like they’ve been given a bit of a lift in the mix, either directly or as a result of the more beefed up backdrop, the chorus of ‘New Messiah’, for example, appears to explode out of the wall of robotic punishment in a way that feels more impactful than on its original incarnation.
In all candour my main takeaway from this revisit was that this record was way better than I remembered it, with much more variety than many FF releases. The creepy guitars and atmospherics on ‘God-Eater’ make for one f the band’s weirdest yet most rewarding listens and I love how the whole record weaves together in a way that many concept pieces don’t do half as well. In fact the addition of originally intended closing track, ‘Human Augmentation’ significantly improves the record’s finale.
For the completists and lovers of little curios, the other bonus tracks will scratch that itch and feel more essential than those on the “Mechanize” reissue. Aside from the customary remix tracks there’s some fun covers on there with my personal highlight being a roided-out version of Big Black’s ‘Passing Complexion’. If you’re a fan of FF then I would says this reissue is borderline essential, but it’s also more than worthwhile for more casual acolytes of the LA Cyber-Metallers. Despite the continuing turmoil the band has played out very publicly in the press, their recorded output continues to be nigh-on immaculate.
‘New Messiah’ Official Video
02. Industrial Discipline
03. Fear Campaign
07. Controlled Demolition
08. Designing The Enemy
09. Metallic Division
10. Final Exit
11. Martyr (re-recorded version)
12. Crash Test (re-recorded version)
13. Sangre De Ninos (re-recorded version)
01. The Industrialist
03. New Messiah
04. God Eater
05. Depraved Mind Murder
06. Virus Of Faith
07. Difference Engine
09. Religion Is Flawed Because Man Is Flawed
10. Enhanced Reality
11. Human Augmentation
12. Fade Away (Recharger Remix by Rhys Fulber and Dino Cazares)
13. Noise In The Machine (Difference Engine Remix by Blush Response)
16. Passing Complexion
Dino Cazares- Guitar, bass on “Re-Industrialized”
Burton C Belle- Vocals
Mike Heller- Drums on “Re-Industrialized”
Gene Hoglan- Drums on “Mechanize”
Byron Stroud- Bass on “Mechanize”
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