Fear Factory - Mechanize
AFM Records
Industrial Metal
10 songs (44:43)
Release year: 2010
AFM Records
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

It's hard to deny that the current legal situation with Fear Factory is, to put it mildly, messed up. For Burton C. Bell to bring Dino Cazares back from the wilderness in a seemingly cynical move to appeal to the band's 90s fans now that Metalcore is going out of fashion is bad enough, but to bypass founding member Raymond Herrera and long-term bassist Christian Olde Wolbers, both with over fifteen years' time in the band to their name, is extremely questionable, whatever his reasons. It reeks of the Gorgoroth controversy, having a similar backhandedness to it that does neither the people involved nor the wider Metal scene any favours. Apparently Olde Wolbers and Herrera are fiercely contesting the legality of their removal, and whilst you can't help but wish them well, a big part of me hopes that they fail in this after having heard Mechanize.

Metalheads, after all, are pragmatists to the core, and given that the last thing we heard from Herrera and Olde Wolbers was the woeful Arkaea album, it's all too understandable that a new Fear Factory lineup which includes the one and only Gene Hoglan (Dark Angel, Death, Strapping Young Lad, Testament, Old Man's Child, etc) will be taken to Metalheads' hearts pretty darn speedily. After all, as good as Raymond's technical precision is, next to the Atomic Clock himself he fades into insignificance; sorry, but that's how it is. And with the knowledge that Gene Hoglan is beating the skins on this album, do you even need to question its quality? Give Burton and Dino credit, bringing him into Fear Factory has given the band such a kick in the behind that it's easy to forget that the band released anything after Obsolete - yes, next to Mechanize the Nu-Metallic Digimortal, the filler-strewn Archetype and the woefully rushed Transgression are nothing, so wonderful a return to form is it.

Opening with the atmospheric groove of the title track, Industrial clanging and banging soon being drowned out by distorted spoken vocals and powerful grooving riffs, the album never really lets up until towards the end. Most tracks take the form of angry attacks somewhere between Demanufacture and Obsolete, heavy crunching riffs and well-written songs pounding their way through listeners' skulls like sledgehammers. Of course, the musical performances from all are spectacular, especially Hoglan's battery and Cazares' constant volley of riffing which really come into their own in moments like the pulverising Powershifter, but it's amazing to hear how immense and powerful Burton sounds, compared to his slightly rough and tired performance on Transgression. It's the same combination of harsh yells and clear singing that we're used to, but moments such as the bellow at the opening of Fear Campaign are positively spine-chilling, and his singing is almost cinematic in its quality.

Doubtless some will accuse this of being a deliberately fan-friendly release, recapturing the hearts and minds lost in the late 90s and 00s, yet it's hard to imagine any Metalhead without his head stuck firmly up his ass enjoying Mechanize. The songs are metal to the core - as far as I can remember, the guitar solo in Fear Campaign is the first time ever that Fear Factory have used one - and will cause copious neck damage amongst the faithful, but it's interesting that they're genuinely good songs, with just the right amount of experimentalism to keep things interesting. Rhys Fulber produced the album, and is also responsible for the chilling Industrial atmosphere weaved through the music in terms of the ominous samples and keyboards used. The piano on Christploitation is a nice touch, whilst Oxidizer's aggressive bluntness is backed up wonderfully with subtle beeps and whistles. Generally, tracks such as the melodic Designing The Enemy are great - even minute-long instrumental interlude Metallic Division is a damn sight better than anything from the last two albums, but it's the eight-minute finale Final Exit which really earns the band props. Their most epic song since the wonderful Resurrection and their second longest ever, the track nicely mixes the melodic and the heavy with excellent usage of blastbeats to build the drama and Burton's best vocal performance yet.

The Metal world has felt Strapping Young Lad's demise keenly, yet it's interesting that Fear Factory here have not grown as heavy as you'd expect now that half of the band is made up of former members of SYL. Sure, this is the heaviest and most powerful album from the band in years, but it's a controlled demolition, to quote the track here, rather than SYL's face-melting madness. As a Fear Factory fan, that's a good thing - Burton's growls have never been his strongest point, and whilst his yells here fit the music perfectly, anything too extreme would be silly. It's a finely considered album, whatever angle you consider it from, and should be more than enough to make the band a force in Metal once again, rather than the also-ran onlookers that they've been since their return in the new millennium. Sorry, Raymond and Christian, but Fear Factory's new line-up have pulled it off, and destroying the goodwill that Mechanize is bound to summon up will benefit no-one.

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Killing Songs :
Mechanize, Industrial Discipline, Fear Campaign, Powershifter, Christploitation, Oxidizer, Final Exit
Goat quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Fear Factory that we have reviewed:
Fear Factory - Genexus reviewed by Goat and quoted 60 / 100
Fear Factory - The Industrialist reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Fear Factory - Remanufacture reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Fear Factory - Soul Of A New Machine reviewed by Goat and quoted 81 / 100
Fear Factory - Obsolete reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
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