Fear Factory - Transgression
Trillion Records
Industrial Metal
11 songs (53:02)
Release year: 2005
Reviewed by Aaron
Major event

Fear Factory has transgressed, all right. They have transgressed the boundaries of good metal, the barriers placed around metal to separate it from its arch-enemy (well, one of them), nu-metal. They have done this repeatedly. Once with Digimortal, and now, once again, with their new effort Transgression. I could throw more silly puns into this first paragraph to over inflate it, but I think you get the message, do you not?

I’m certain that you’ve all heard of Fear Factory. They’re what the music industry calls ‘elder statesmen.’ A band that has transcended their peers and imitators to continue making records in the modern industry. Industrial metal’s equivalent of what Korn hope to be to the nu-metal scene: After all their worthless contemporaries (Static-X, Limp Bizkit, etc) have died out, they will bravely soldier on.

Well lemme tell ya, a couple more records like this, and I can see Fear Factory dying in great, torturous pain.

The production is clean, polished, and lifeless. Organic like Archetype, but not nearly as memorably done. I, for one, am of the opinion that they handed a copy of Archetype to their new producer and said “Do this.” The guitar tone is decent, but forgettable, just like the drum production, the bass in general, and the vocals. Boring.

Now, one thing, it starts out really well. The opening song, 540,000 Degrees Fahrenheit, is great. Too clean and polished sounding in the production, but it’s heavy, it hits hard, and it hits right- just like Slave Labor did a year ago, but somehow more mature-seeming. Perhaps the effective synths that swirl through the background while Burton angelically croons the first verse or perhaps the general threadbare feel of the main riff that they still make work. 540,000 Degrees Fahrenheit is a great song, and proves that if nothing else, Fear Factory sure know which song to put at the forefront of the album.

Then it moves into the title track which sounds pretty goddamn good, with a driving main riff that harkens back to Demanufacture and a decent chorus, but it’s not memorable. When I turn the song off, nothing sticks in my head, and the next time I turn it on… it’s like I’ve never heard the thing before. Only good when you're listening to it, but still a nice tune.

The next song which really warrants mention is Contagion. This song sounds like Drowning Pool. It sounds like Adema. It sounds like Nonpoint. It sounds like utter, utter crap! Terrible riffs, boring drumming, useless vocals, no atmosphere whatsoever. Horrible song. Nothing caustic or bruising about this,

John Mayer could out-heavy it on his damned acoustic guitar. God, I hate that man, but let’s go on. Skip over Empty Vision, nothing about it is at all interesting.

Okay, Echo of My Scream. This is where the ‘experimentation’ Burton promised us first shines through, and it doesn’t deliver. Over the course of nearly seven minutes, we’re treated to acoustic guitar, haunting vocal melodies, slow mournful synths… but where’s the song? When all’s said and done, it’s just a bunch of notes, with no real coherence in the overall composition.

Supernova is pop-rock pap. Don’t bother. New Promise is a rewrite of Empty Vision with a worse riff. Don’t bother.

Now we get to… the covers! A nearly note-for-note rendition of U2’s I Will Follow, and an overlong interpretation of Killing Joke’s Millennium. In short, they both suck. I Will Follow is not a Fear Factory-sounding song, and it isn’t a good SONG either. Millennium is the exact same thing as the Killing Joke version, but with an extra verse… which consists of the same material as another verse. They just threw that in to make the song longer. Urgh, my head hurts.

We close with Moment of Impact, one of the three good songs on the album. It’s coherently structured, decently powerful, and sports a good solid riff. Transgression opened and closed on a high note, we can give it that.

In the end, Fear Factory failed to realize that over the course of their first three records, they painted themselves into a stylistic niche. If they wanted to keep their fan base satiated, and continue selling records, they’d just have to keep remaking Demanufacture. They chose not to, and look where it got em. When bands that have so thoroughly written out a musical outline for themselves attempt to change, their fans scream in outrage and buy nothing. When they don’t change, their fans whine about all the albums being the same. It’s a lose-lose situation, but it’s what Fear Factory did to themselves.

Good luck getting out of there guys, but this record won’t get you anywhere. This record is crap.

Killing Songs :
540,000 Degrees Fahrenheit, Transgression, Moment of Impact
Aaron quoted 48 / 100
Goat quoted 70 / 100
Other albums by Fear Factory that we have reviewed:
Fear Factory - Aggression Continuum reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Fear Factory - Genexus reviewed by Goat and quoted 60 / 100
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
To see all 11 reviews click here
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