Review Summary: Picking up where Demanufacture left off, Obsolete shows Fear Factory perfecting their style of Industrial Metal and heading in a slightly darker direction in the process.
Demanufacture was a landmark album in the Industrial Metal genre. Fear Factory was and still are a band that emerged with a distinct sound that got them known around the world as a very promising band not only in the genre but in metal as a whole. Burton C. Bell had a great vocal range and when combined with Dino’s cold and machine gun-like guitar riffs and Raymond Herrera’s distinct drumming all backed by Christian Olde Wolbers pulsating bass lines the band was a force to be reckoned with. All things considered, it was evident that fans around the world were looking forward to the follow up to the amazing album they brought forth in 1995.
Beginning as most Fear Factory albums do, with dark mechanical noises building up, Obsolete sets a dark and brutal mood to the album with its destructive opening track, “Shock”. On it, Burton executes his vocals perfectly, shifting from his relentless screams to soaring clean vocals in a flawless manner. Dino and Raymond keep up the fast pace of the song with their great combination, and the song is infectiously catchy and addictive. Things get no different when “Edgecrusher” kicks in, proving to be another heavy number that gets you shouting along the chorus. “Descent” proves time and again to be one of the greatest Fear Factory songs ever recorded, featuring melodic vocals and a killer chorus. Dino’s guitar work in the song is very melodic and almost soothing at some points whereas it’s mostly crushing in all of the other songs and the bass lines keep the song moving along great. Christian also takes the lead from Dino in songs, driving the band forward in songs like “Freedom or Fire” and the title track where his bass lines are deep and heavy and propel the music forward. Raymond presents some great drum work on songs like “Hi-Tech Hate”, which along with “Freedom or Fire” are 2 of the most intense songs on the record. Across the 10 tracks of this album you will find that there is little to no filler at all, and that every song contributes to the concept of the record musically and lyrically.
There are some things about this album that you will find differ from the previous 2 Fear Factory albums. “Resurrection” is a 6 minute song that is not only one of the ‘lightest’ songs the band has recorded but also proves to be a highlight of the album. The title track features a chilling introduction before the bass line kicks in, with a mechainical voice speaking of how man has become 'obsolete' and setting the stage for the onslaught that is to come. Burton’s clean vocals start the track out and then the band blasts in and the song evolves into something incredible, with the final chorus being extremely powerful and heartfelt in a sense. Dino proves that he is a vital member to the band once more with his guitar work on this record. On every song here, his crushing guitar style drives the songs. For a true demonstration of how much of a range Burton has, look no further then the album closer, “Timelessness”. The rest of the band takes their leave and Burton is alone on the track with a depressing backdrop and a full string section backing him on the most amazing vocal performance of the entire record. He truly sings his heart out on this one. It serves as an even better closer than “A Therapy For Pain” off of Demanufacture did.
Obsolete doesn’t necessarily reinvent the Fear Factory sound; it builds on it and focuses it even more then the previous record and the band perfect their style here. The concept it’s also brought out even better than it was before and some of the best Fear Factory songs can be found on here. This album is considered essential by many fans of the band and of the genre, and even years later it still retains its originality and intensity. Truly a must for any fan of Industrial music or of metal in general, Obsolete is one of the best metal albums of the late 90’s and a gem in the Fear Factory discography.