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Fear Factory Archetype

By Chris Hawkins, Contributor
Monday, March 22, 2004 @ 8:57 AM


(Liquid Records)

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“The soul of this machine has improved,” proclaims vocalist Burton C. Bell during the title track for Fear Factory’s latest disc. Back in the early ‘90s, this band managed to reshape the collective Metal conscious with their insane rhythms and Death Metal/melodic vocals. Peaking with their second release, Demanufacture, Fear Factory had gained a momentum that rendered them unstoppable. It seemed no other band was like Fear Factory, and no other band could achieve that precedent of creativity, precision, and power that said album set. After many tours and two other albums (both of which could not compare to their older siblings), the status of Fear Factory as legends remained intact, but as active legends, the truth remained to be seen.

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2004 is a new year, though. Founding guitarist, Dino, is no longer with the band, while bassist Christian has taken his vacant slot. Many will be wondering if Christian can hang with the Fear Factory ethos of ultra-syncopated rhythms, but truth be told, he does it better. The guitar tone itself sounds less processed, and this rawer tone gives the entire band a more natural feel. Also, it seems Christian has a wider selection of chords to choose from which definitely adds to this effect. Handling bass duties is newcomer, Byron Stroud from the almighty Strapping Young Lad. His in-your-face tone and technical prowess compliment Raymond Herrera’s mastery of the drums. Having always been the central core of Fear Factory’s sound, Herrera continues to amaze. His playing is definitely shattering all records as he leaves the comfort of double bass and snare often to flirt more with his toms. Lombardo would be proud.

What have always put Fear Factory ahead of the rest are Burton’s vocals. So many bands have tried to recreate his perfected clean/dirty approach, but always miss the mark. Burton sounds better than ever at times even echoing his awesome performance on the G/Z/R record a while back. Perhaps it’s easiest to hear the excitement surrounding this band’s rebirth in the vocals. A half-ass performance can rarely be hidden vocally, and Burton approaches the entire situation as if he was just signed.

The overall production of Archetype allows the top-notch songwriting to clearly shine through the mix. Songs like “Slave Labor” and “Corporate Cloning” show that this album has much more to do with Demanufacture than any later work. It’s even cooler to see that “Cyberwaste” was chosen as the first single, since it is the most brutal track since their debut, Soul of a New Machine. The intensity and innovation of the past is met with a band sounding more like a band. Fear Factory sound like a band that thrives off playing together, and thus are able to reap the benefits of their collective creativity. “Archetype” and “Bite the Hand That Bleeds You” showcase a more melodic side, but without losing any credibility. Songs as such remain in your head hours after listening to the record. This process increases with each successive listen.

Let it be known that Fear Factory have returned, and in fact, been reborn. The conviction is self-evident as is the quality of the material. The band has once again proven that they are at the forefront of creativity, and especially on this album, it seems they are at the top of their game. As Nu-Metal dies more and more each day, the true innovators, not he imitators have risen to the top!

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