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Wednesday, January 27 2010 00:00

FEAR FACTORY - MECHANIZE (Album Review)

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51rqGyulVL. SL100 Regardless of what you might've heard over the past year about bickering, legal troubles, lineup changes, and sheer internet gossip - FEAR FACTORY has returned.

With their first new album in over 5 years, the band celebrates their 20th Anniversary with the release of MECHANIZE (Feb 9, 2010, Candlelight), a 10-song set that makes you forgive the past couple of forgettable releases that bore the "Fear Factory" name. With a lineup including vocalist/sole constant member Burton C. Bell, the returning Dino Cazares on guitar, bassist Byron Stroud (FF since '03), and new drummer Gene Hoglan (Strapping Young Lad, Dethklok), the latest FF offering returns to the classic mechanical/industrial sound that captivated listeners in the first place.

The album opens with the welcoming sound of industry courtesy of returning producer/programmer Rhys Fulber (Front Line Assembly) who helped craft some of the bands finest early-mid 90's work. When the entire band kicks in around the 00:38 mark, any doubts you might've held are quickly destroyed. The tone, the power - all vintage FEAR FACTORY. Cazares' guitar sound cuts like a knife, melding seamlessly with Hoglan's crushing drum assault as Bell's invigorated voice brings new soul to the FF machine. "Oxidizer", "Industrial Discipline", and "Powershifter" also stand out among choice cuts.

Also pleasing about MECHANIZE is the return to a production level not heard since 2001's DIGIMORTAL. Listen to the entire FEAR FACTORY catalog in sequence and you'll notice that the ARCHETYPE and TRANSGRESSION albums stick out like a sore thumb, noticeably underproduced when compared to their counterparts. Whether from rushed production or lack of funds, said error has been joyously corrected here.

While press materials for the album liken MECHANIZE to "a missing link between DEMANUFACTURE and OBSOLETE", musically the album feels like a companion piece as opposed to a direct bridge - while the lyrical content undoubtedly seems to follow said albums in terms of theme, with the machine having evolved.

While falling short of reaching the same level of perfection found on the most classic of FF releases, MECHANIZE will hold its own among the best of the catalog, and has cemented itself as an early entry into the "best of 2010" category.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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