Review Summary: Presenting a sound way ahead of its time, Demanufacture is and always will be the definitive Fear Factory album. This is the sound of a truly talented Industrial Metal band pushing their limits and making an album that is timeless even years later.
Industrial Metal has always been somewhat of an acquired taste to some. Not all of the bands that come out with this sort of sound are good, but there is no doubt that one of the pioneer bands of this genre is Fear Factory. Them, along with Nine Inch Nails, helped Industrial music gain much more popularity during the 90’s. NIN had a much more mainstream sound and have been recognized more, but Fear Factory infused so many elements into their music from other genres that made them have their own definitive sound. On 1992’s Soul of a New Machine, the band presented something the world was not expecting. They infused the brutal aspects of a death metal album with clean vocals and melodies, which was rarely heard of in that time and set them on the map as one of the most intriguing bands in the early 90’s. In 1995, they released Demanufacture, and with this album they truly define their sound and give a collection that has since become timeless.
Part of what made this album immensely popular and the reason why it has inspired countless metal bands since its release is that it has a sound that is very futuristic, brutal, and cold. Vocalist Burton C. Bell is very unique and brought forth a distinct vocal style that is integral to the Fear Factory sound. His screams and clean vocals are well executed throughout the album, most notably songs like ‘Self Bias Resistor’, ‘Zero Signal’, and ‘A Therapy for Pain’. Guitarist Dino Cazeres packs this album full of machine gun riffs, never letting up from the assault until the album closer. His signature riffs on the title track set the mood for the rest of the album and are impossible not to bang your head to. He never takes time solo on this album (or any other FF album he performs on for that matter) but he more than proves himself as a great guitar player. The man has one hell of a right hand. The bass is present in nearly every song and doesn’t just back up Dino’s power charged riffs, Christian Olde Wolbers is a talented bassist and it shows. Drummer Raymond Herrera is one of the most talented drummers in metal, and he, along with Dino, help create the cold and mechanical sound this album has. His fills and beats throughout Demanufacture prove that he knows how to dominate his kit and he works really well with Dino and Christian to form a heavy, relentless sound.
The concept of the album is one of its most interesting aspects. Each song tells a different part of the story, that story being about a struggle of a man against a machine-controlled government and world. This concept would be taken further on their next 2 records, Obsolete and Digimortal. As a result of the concept, the lyrics aren’t your typical cliché metal lyrics, and Burton carries out the story well through them. The title track will always be a standout, for it contains all of the elements of the bands sound and has a very heavy and angry chorus. Herrera’s double-bass pedals combined with Dino’s fast riffing and mechanical noise set the album off, only to be followed by Burton’s first clean vocals on the record that quickly change into screams that lead into the crushing chorus. ‘New Breed’ is a good example of how FF can make a short but heavy track and mix their huge industrial influence into the mix. ‘Self Bias Resistor’ and ‘A Therapy for Pain’ are 2 of the best songs on the album, the former being a FF classic and having an incredible chorus that you will find yourself singing along to, and the latter being the soft album closer which echoes a feeling of doom and despair. With Cazeres letting off of the heavy guitar assault for the entire 9 minutes of the song, Christian and Herrera are left to back Burtons amazing and truly emotional vocal performance that finishes the album as it fades into electronic noise.
Demanufacture is and always will be the definitive Fear Factory album. Presenting a sound and story way ahead of its time, its no wonder this record has become timeless over the years. The 4 members of the band meld to make an excellent performance that no band has been able to come close to since. It’s probably a very good thing that Burton and Dino have reformed the band with a “new energy” of sorts, because I think everyone wants them to start making great music like this again.