Fear Factory - Genexus
Nuclear Blast
Industrial Metal
10 songs (48:03)
Release year: 2015
Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

For what seems like quite a long time now I have been a defender of Fear Factory, helped considerably by the fact that on occasion they can make a terrific album. 2010's Mechanize was a good example of the band on fire, 2012's The Industrialist to a lesser degree, but Genexus bucks this trend by being worse than both, decent on initial listens but sticking to the past so tightly that any long-term fans can't help but feel bored by it. Unlike 2005's Transgression, the last actually poor Fear Factory album, Genexus gives all the impressions of having serious work put into it, with opener Autonomous Combat System opening with suitably atmospheric electronics and voiceover before the by now typical hammer-and-tongs industrial groove that defines the band's sound kicks in. Unfortunately, that's all the album does, give or take the odd slower 'atmospheric' piece, and if you've ever wanted to hear musical progression from Fear Factory then you're shit out of luck, I'm afraid. Given that past musical progressions have included the catchy but now very dated nu-metallisms of Digimortal, this may be a good thing, but it's depressing that one of the most exciting bands of the 90s are reduced to this, and doubly depressing that Digimortal is still a more fun and interesting listen than Fear Factory can manage nearly fifteen years later.

Part of this is due to the fact that Fear Factory have been chasing the ghost of their classic album, Demanufacture, for years, and every album released since can't help but be greeted with a shrug from non-rabid fans for being another album that doesn't live up to the high points – Sepultura Syndrome, if you will. Genexus, stupid name and all, is slightly better my eyes than the generic crap of the likes of the most recent Soulfly outing, but it's hard to argue that it isn't equivalent in the sense that it feels like the band on autopilot. And if ever Fear Factory's base formula irritated you in the past, then you'll feel it even more now. Burton Bell is probably the worst overall element, his passable if flat and tuneless clean singing and woeful harsh vocals dragging this down like never before. Seriously, never criticise Bjorn Strid or hell, even James Hetfield again in my hearing, metalheads, because mainstream metal vocals have hit a new low. It's not that Bell is bad, he's up to the standard of past Fear Factory albums after all, yet is painfully average here, barely adequate for the likes of Dielectric that call for some emotional input to be really effective, and severely lacking in harsh vocal standards in a way that a voice with personality like Randy Blythe isn't.

Another problem with Genexus is that the songwriting is utterly uninteresting. Soul Hacker's groove is heavy enough and its chorus is catchy enough, but both could easily have fit on 1998's Obsolete. The likes of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, two of metal's biggest and most consistent-sounding bands, have gone through more changes in the last ten years than Fear Factory have in their entire careers, and it's not good enough any more. Standard heavy-but-dull piledrivers like Protomech are factory-produced industrial metal, the brief touches of electronica hinting at something better but only frustrating the listener in the process. The title track is a highlight, but god, it's so similar structurally and even in term of riffs and vocal patterns to Slave Labor, the opening to 2004's Archetype, that you can't help but wonder why you're not listening to that. Sadly, Fear Factory are so low on inspiration that they're ripping themselves off, and doing so badly.

I can't recommend Genexus. It's a solid enough slice of the band's sound, but it's an album badly cobbled together from past glories, a self-referential set of mediocre songs that makes recent Slayer look amazing in comparison. At least Slayer make an effort. Hell, post Black Album Metallica have gone to more effort than Fear Factory have in the last ten years! I want to love Fear Factory now as much as I have in the past, after all, they were a formative band in my metal journey and their past albums are still a frequent presence on my day-to-day playlists. But for the love of god, no other band of their stature, from Machine Head downwards, is so content to mine the same musical and thematic territory to such little effect. And it's really hurting Fear Factory, to the point where Genexus, lacking the epic moments or even fist-pumping catchiness of the previous two albums, is impossible to praise and any musical outlet that does has lost my respect accordingly. If you wanted to hear a very poor echo of Mechanize and The Industrialist, get on this. Anyone who loves industrial metal for itself, however, should dig out their Red Harvest and Godflesh albums and hope Fear Factory find innovation and inspiration soon.

Killing Songs :
Battle for Utopia, barely.
Goat quoted 60 / 100
Other albums by Fear Factory that we have reviewed:
Fear Factory - The Industrialist reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Fear Factory - Mechanize reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 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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