Review Summary: The evidence is simply too overwhelming. The court has no choice but to rule in favor of Dino and Burton.
If the only evidence allowed in the legal battle over the Fear Factory moniker was music, the case would already be over. In that regard, the facts against Christian Wolbers and Raymond Herrera are just too overwhelming to ignore. To begin with, there are the two albums that were released without Dino Cazares on guitar. The first release is simply a decent attempt at emulating his style, and the second is widely considered to be a near disaster. Then there is the Arkaea
release – an album that would have sunk Fear Factory to new lows if it had actually been issued with the band’s name. These facts alone are probably enough to prove that Christian should never write another riff for the band again, but there is still one more piece of evidence left to evaluate: Mechanize
It turns out that even more than the underwhelming Arkaea
release, this album proves that the name belongs with Dino and Burton. These two, along with Gene Hoglan and Byron Stroud, have released the album that most Fear Factory fans have been clamoring for since Digimortal
is an album full of rapid-fire riffs, harsh shouts, clean singing, precision percussion and industrial flourishes all wrapped in a cold, mechanized production courtesy of Rhys Fulber (Front Line Assembly
, Paradise Lost
). More importantly, it’s an album that doesn’t contain the nu metal influence, crappy cover songs (how do you mess up Killing Joke???) or blatant attempts to reach the mainstream – an album that could sit comfortably among the band’s first three releases, but with better songwriting than any of them. In a nutshell, it’s everything that the band has been unwilling or unable to do since Dino was removed.
Despite all of the nods to the band’s glory days, Mechanize
is more than just an attempt to relive the past, though. This effort to expand their sound (however slight) is mainly apparent in the increased role of the electronics. From the piano section at the beginning of “Christploitation” to the faint synth melodies that run beneath most of the riffs, it’s obvious that Rhys Fulber was given a lot of room to work. Dino Cazares has also expanded his repertoire by occasionally changing things up with quick leads or a slightly thrashy riff – although these are generally fleeting moments and nothing new if you’ve heard his other band, Divine Heresy
. More so than what the band chose to include and exclude, the most astonishing thing about the album is the level of conviction that runs through it. Vocalist Burton C. Bell has delivered one of the most visceral vocal performances of his career. He sounds positively pissed off on every track, and his clean vocals are powerful and tastefully done. On the musical side, drummer Gene Hoglan delivers a more forceful and aggressive performance than Raymond Herrera ever seemed capable of, and the riffs are some of the most aggressive and heavy of the band’s career.
Despite all of the things Raymond and Christian have done to prove that they probably shouldn’t be allowed to retain the Fear Factory name, it turns out that the biggest reason has come from Dino and Burton. Quite simply, Mechanize
corrects all of the band’s past missteps including those made prior to Dino’s departure. It is a collection of everything that made them great without any of the extraneous influences that came later. Mechanize
is heavy rhythmic riffs locked in with double bass, violent shouts and powerful clean singing, industrialized effects, and strong songwriting. It’s the sound of a band reinvigorated – a band ready to prove to fans that they’re back and ready to push the Fear Factory name to levels that it hasn’t occupied in years. Sorry Christian and Raymond – with Mechanize
the fans have won, but that also means that you both lose.