Fear Factory: Mechanize
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Right off, let's just ignore the entire Fear Factory argument of the past year. I has been well documented elsewhere, so there is no need to do so here. Here is a quick rundown of who is out and who is in:
Vocals: Burton Bell sill IN (despite stating he no longer wanted to make this kind of music)
Guitars: Christian Olde Wolbers OUT (initially bass player, switched to guitar when Dino left after Digimortal), Dino Cazeras back IN
Bass: Byron Stroud still IN (took over bass after Wolbers moved to guitar)
Drums: Raymond Herrara OUT, Gene Hoglan IN
The first question someone familiar with the past work will ask is: How does this compare to Demanufacture? I will answer that question, in time.
Fear Factory has a definite formula to their music: growling/yelling vocals with melodic, clean sung choruses, staccato, machine gun fire guitar riffs, industrial/electronic overtones, and blast-beat drumming. In that aspect, Mechanize is no different than past albums. The formula is intact. However, every one of those aspects is just that much better than recent albums. The choruses are bigger and more anthemic. The guitar is incredibly fast and powerful. The drums, well, it is Gene Freaking Hoglan. What do you expect? Pure, undistilled awesome. As for bassist Byron Stroud, I think the best compliment I can give is this: He keeps up with Hoglan. 'Nuff said. Add all those components together and you end up with an unexpectedly vibrant album that sounds both current and retro, paying homage to their ground-breaking past while gazing fixedly on a promising future.
There simply isn't a bad track on Mechanize. From start to finish, this is an aggressive, yet carefully melodic album. There is an abundance of brutal riffing, but carefully hidden moments of true beauty. The rapid-fire moments of guitar and double bass/snare and cymbal work are stunningly fast. I honestly don't know that I have ever heard so much precision and speed on an album before.
So, to answer that question: Mechanize is every bit as good as Demanufacture. In fact, in some ways it may be even better. From the title track to the long and surprisingly emotional closer "The Final Exit", Mechanize is a brilliant album that simply blows away everything Fear Factory has done in the past 15 years. Not for the faint of heart, but this really is an essential metal recording.
Final verdict: 5/5