Review Summary: "Mechanize" might not be a return to form, but the boys of Fear Factory make their triumphant return. A solid album that mixes old with new, "Mechanize" is sure to please the longtime fan. Gary Numan has yet to be called.
After a lengthy hiatus, the metal scene thought Fear Factory was done. With the brutal Soul of a New Machine and the more polished and industrial-influenced Demanufactured, Fear Factory was set to take over the metal world. Nothing could stop them. But a foray into nu-metal and a cover of “Cars” featuring Gary Numan himself were mistakes that were awful hard to overlook. The band began to tear itself apart, with Burton having Dino fired and Wolbers and Herrera starting their own band Arkaea, which seemed to be a parody of Fear Factory itself. A return to form, hell, even just a return at all did not seem to be in the cards for the band, and fans were left with the feeling of what could have been.
Fast forward to April 7th, 2009. It seemed all was forgotten between Burton and Dino, who made an announcement that Bell, Cazares, and Stroud were reforming the band with Gene Hoglan (Strapping Young Lad, Death, Dark Angel, and Dethklok) on drums. After several live shows, hours of writing, rehearsing, and recording, and lingering legal disputes over the Fear Factory name with former members Herrera and Wolbers, and released Mechanize February 9th, 2010. The album pummels you from the start, and hardly ever lets up.
The opener “Industrial Discipline” immediately shows one how far the band has come in the 5 years since Transgression. Gone are the nu-metal/rap metal influences. Gone are the forays into 80’s pop/electronic. They leave all the experimentation behind and leave the listener with a satisfyingly beautiful mind-numbing and crushing listen. The gruff vocals mixed in the Burton’s beautiful clean hooks (if you want to call them that) are still there, but the return of Dino and the addition of Hoglan is what sets this album apart from the last three. Dino seems to bring an edge to the band that wasn’t found while he was away. The beautiful yet brutal riffs that continue to come out of his guitar are simply breathtaking, while Gene seems to bring out the best in every member of the band with his uncanny timing and rhythm behind his kit. Stroud isn’t a slouch on the bass, either. The bass lines are pulsating and can cause the listener’s hair to rise from his arms.
In the past, Fear Factory has had a recurring theme of “Man vs. Technology” throughout their albums. On Mechanize, however, the band seems to comment on every aspect of American culture. Whether it be religion (“Christploitation”) or politics(“Fear Campaign,” “Oxidizer”), the band seems to be angrier than ever. Like a snake, they seem to be shedding their old skin and growing new ones. Unlike the snake, though, the new skin is eerily familiar to the old. Herrera and Wolbers are gone, Gene Hoglan is in, and the lyrical content is different, but musically it’s all still the same. And damn, is this listener happy. Welcome back, Fear Factory.