Fear Factory has been in the news quite a bit this year. Early last month, it was announced that founding member and guitarist Dino Cazares had joined Soulfly for its latest tour in place of Marc Rizzo. That announcement was followed up with the release of the new companion piece to the band’s latest album, Aggression Continuum. The companion piece in question is the isolated instrumental tracks from that album. Why the band would go that route is a headscratcher when audiences can hear the instrumentals just as clearly in the original album. Speaking of the album, the 10-song record was released June 18 through Nuclear Blast Records. The 48-minute collection is an interesting addition to the band’s extensive catalog. That is due in large part to the album’s featured lyrical content, which will be discussed shortly. The musical arrangements that feature alongside the album’s lyrical content make for more interest and will be discussed a little later. The production that went into this record rounds out its most important elements. When it is considered along with the album’s content, the collective items make the album maybe not the band’s best work, but still worth hearing at least once.
Fear Factory’s most recent album, Aggression Continuum, is a mostly successful offering from the band. Not knowing whether the band will continue now that former front man Burton C. Bell (whose vocals are featured in the record) and founding member Dino Cazares was recently announced as part of Soulfly’s current lineup, it is a positive potential final offering from the band. The album’s success comes in this record, primarily through its lyrical themes. The lyrical content in this case is actually quite different from that featured in the band’s existing catalog. While so much of the band’s catalog focuses largely on the issue of technology taking over the planet, this album seems less focused on that matter. Right from the album’s opener, ‘Recode,’ the album seems more focused on general defiance and belief in self than on technology’s role in mankind’s fate. Bell – again he recently parted ways with the band – goes so far as to sing in the song’s chorus, “Why deny life you dream about/Why deny your dream?” Considering comments that Bell shared in recent interviews about his time with Fear Factory, audiences are left to wonder if these statements are somewhat autobiographical. The mention of a generation being “left behind” and the encouragement to “open your eyes” serves even more, to bring about that sense of defiance. It is a statement about taking control of one’s life. That overarching theme continues through the album’s first few tracks just as clearly, too.
On a separate note, ‘Manufactured Hope’ takes the band in another direction, though one that is still familiar within the hard rock and metal community. In this case, Bell seems to take on the issue of religious hypocrisy. This is inferred he Bell directly sings in the song’s chorus, “I am hypocrisy of faith/I will not believe/My mind will never be enslaved/I will not believe.” His call of “ignore the facts in front of you/Deny the logic and the truth/Conform to mediocrity/You know it’s manufactured hope” in the song’s second verse serves just as much to infer the noted message. He goes on to go so far as to note, “Faith is a weapon and a tool/Creating manufactured hope” makes the noted message seem even more the case. Again, this is slightly new territory for Fear Factory, but not for the hard rock and metal communities. That Bell and company would again, show that willingness to try something new at least for itself as a group, is welcome even in its larger familiarity.
‘End of Line’ meanwhile takes the band back to more familiar ground while also taking it in a slightly different direction again. In this case, the song comes across lyrically as a sociopolitical statement about the state of the world today. This is inferred right from the song’s lead verse and chorus as Bell sings, “Avoid the bloody streets/We’re living in domestic war/Gunmen in uniform/Murdering innocents at your door/This can’t be real/Assault on my senses/Depriving me of sanity/Fractured/Damned images/Praying for the final reckoning/End of life/End of time/End of line.” The seeming message continues in the song’s second verse in which Bell sings, “Beaten to crush my soul/To silence me in shackled chains/Your lies like gasoline/Living every day in tragedy.” All of this comes across as a commentary of sorts on police brutality. That is just this critic’s interpretation. It is inferred through the mention of armed gunmen at the door. It conjures thoughts of what law enforcement officers did to Brianna Taylor. The images being seen are in fact still damning. It and so much more leaves many praying for the final reckoning. The matter of being “beaten to crush my soul/To silence me in shackled chains” points even more toward the matter of police brutality, especially considering this year’s headlines. Again, this is all this critic’s interpretation. If in fact that is the case, then it is another example of how Fear Factory on this album, really strayed from its own norm and opted instead for something more widely accessible, lyrically speaking. When it is considered along with the other lyrical themes noted here and the rest of the album’s lyrical themes, the whole makes clear why the album’s lyrical themes are so important to its presentation. They are just a part of what makes the album interesting. The musical arrangements that accompany the record’s lyrical themes are more familiar from the band and add to the record’s success.
While the lyrical content featured throughout Fear Factory’s new album finds the band seemingly move into new territory, the record’s musical arrangements keep the band in familiar territory. From beginning to end, audiences will find that the arrangements pull from various points in the band’s catalog. Right from the record’s outset, the band take audiences back to the sounds crafted for its 1998 album, Obsolete. As the album progresses, the arrangements are more akin to works from The Industrialist, Genexus, and Archetype. Simply put, the arrangements that are featured throughout the album are everything that audiences have come to expect from Fear Factory from one song to the next. To that end, they will appeal easily to the band’s established audience base, and to more casual fans of the industrial metal realm. Keeping that appeal in mind along with the interest that the album’s lyrical themes are sure to generate, the collective content goes a long way toward making the album successful. Even with that in mind, there is still one more item to examine, that last being the record’s production.
The production that went into Aggression Continuum is important to examine because of how much is going on in each song. The guitars and bass, each of which were recorded by Cazares, are so heavy and rich. Bell’s vocals are just as powerful here as ever, too, as are the drums, which were handled by current drummer Mike Heller. Considering the energy in each composition and the richness of each line, it would have been so easy for the songs to get bogged down in themselves, but thankfully that did not happen. Rather, each line complimented the others. The result is a record whose presentation succeeds just as much for its aesthetic value as for its content. To that end, all things considered here make the album overall that much more certain of a success.
Fear Factory’s latest album, Aggression Continuum is a record that is certain to appeal mostly to the band’s established audiences, and just as much to casual industrial metal fans. That is proven in part through the record’s lyrical themes. The themes in question find the band seeming to go in a different direction at least for itself, than that for which it has been known. By contrast, the musical arrangements featured throughout the record are more familiar from one to the next. That familiarity, paired with the new direction taken in the song’s lyrical content, makes for plenty of interest here. When the record’s production is taken into consideration, it puts the finishing touch to the presentation, ensuring the noted engagement and entertainment for the mentioned audiences even more. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation. All things considered, they make the album a work that regardless of the band’s fate from here, is mostly a success.
Aggression Continuum is available now. More information on Fear Factory’s new record is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:
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