Fear Factory - Archetype
Burton C. Bell - Vocals
Byron Stroud - Bass
Christian Olde Wolbers - Lead Guitar
Raymond Herrera - Drums & Percussion
Fear Factory's new release is on our doorsteps. They spent a while in disarray, and faded away from our ears. There were "internal disputes" among the bandmembers, ultimately leading to the release of Dino. The band's outlook was grim and it looked like it was over. But it all came back together and Archetype was created. The lineup didn't change their sound, but popularity has. Their nu-metal surge of Digimortal has been dampened, thank heavens, but it's still evident they have been influenced by either the glamour of the money or the fame.
Before we knew it, Fear Factory had set in motion the steps that would lead to an onslaught of mainstream clones. it's not until hindsight that we can see how bands like Slipknot came to be popular. Fear Factory had a big part in their design, whether they intended it or not. Archetype basically says "we are what you are destined to become". And it's up to us to accept that or not.
opens the disc. It's not as powerful as previous album openers, but really brings back the feel that Shock
did upon loading Obsolete. I believe the tune hints at the music industry, perhaps their involvement with their previous contract, but it could relate to any entertainment industry, or any money-making industry for that matter. It's very 'typical' Fear Factory in structure and sound. But to me, the song fails to drive the meaning home, and starts to become redundant by minute 3.
Followed by Cyberwaste
, it's a chest pounding venture into Fear Factory's second worst song to date. Perhaps if the vocals were removed, this song could actually work. The guitar lines are way too simple, too "nu". By that, I mean you could find this particular progression in about 100 songs on the market today. This song screams "Soul of a New Machine", but it's so blatantly defies everything which made that album unique. I can't help but think this was thrown together in 10 minutes. "Let's see how fast we can play, and how generic we can sound". Herrera doens't cease to amaze me though on the skins. The lyrics are so bad, it again could apply to any of a hundred bands.
Act of God
is good up until 3.38. Burton opens his lungs here to the level he did on Obsolete. His voice is extremely solid when accompanied by the progression roots, something Fear Factory has always been known for. There's no magic, here, but that's why it works compared to the multitude of other acts. The melodies are so simple they stand out. and when Burton drops the growling, it can give off a refreshing vibe, a breather if you will. Act of God works until the breakdown where it screams "Nu-metal", something metalheads will notice immediately. It self-destructs as the entire feel of the song is disrupted by the lackluster progressions which follow until the chorus again. Blah. I just can't stand that sound.
brings back the days of Demanufacture, when Fear Factory had some truly remarkable song-writing talent. While the melody is absent outside the chorus, the atmosphere created by the keyboards and the pulsing drums and rhythm are enough to make this track stand out from the rest. There's an eerie feeling abound here. This track screams "release", but we shall see if that is true. Herrera has a chance to prove that he really is cybernetic. It's almost inhuman when you hear his kicks. Despite how heavy this track is, you'll be singing along in no time. Release-worthy or not, it's a well done track.
I can't decide if the title track, Archetype
, is a misnomer or not. By definition, the Archetype is the prototype or the reference design for many to come. If this hints at what Fear Factory will become, then it might not be a bad thing. There's a lot going in this style. It's much more straight forward and easy to listen to than some of the other tracks on their discs (post Demanufacture). There's no disturbances between the chorus and vocals, and the guitar serves as primarily rhythm. My brain, at least, interprets the guitar in this song as pure noise, and filters it out, leaving room for nothing but the vocals and drums. I think that is why this track appeals to me. It's not forcing anything at me, obscuring what else is going on. It just feels pleasant and easy to listen to. It doesn't feel a chore to play along. If this archetype spawns a million clones, today's popular metal might benefit a little bit.
seems like more of an attack on everything. Who knows what spawned this mindset, but everyone of us can relate in some way. We hate Britney Spears. We hate the new VW Beetle. To me, it states that no matter what is given to us by the industries around us, the mindless populus will accept it and either adore it or despise it. There is no middle ground. The media will make or break the actor, singer, or latest gadget. The music is very sellable, a hypocritic design. It's cookie-cutter in just about every way. Nothing special makes it stand on its own, other than that it IS nothing special, another clone of what's become mainstream. Go figure.
Bite the Hand that Bleeds
also screams "release me". I believe the use of something other than the bottom two guitar strings is used as well, but I can't be sure. The keyboards come back here and save this one from falling apart early. It's broken, though, and doesn't flow. Another five minute design. It's definitely a new sound though. It just doesn't scream Fear Factory at all, which you can decide is a good or bad thing.
is another Obsolete track. Changing between the melodic chorus and rough verses, it's the sound we love (or hate) from Fear Factory. This one isn't anything special though. The lyrics are at times lame. "Undercurrents, We cannot believe, Undercurrents, Slowly Drowning Me. Drown! Haha!"
I feel like I'm drowning listening to this one. The typical nu-metal progressions stand out half way through. It's a design that I guess works to sell albums today. I personally despise how overused it is. It signifies "easy to implement" and "everyone's doing it". Blech.
is another run of the mill tune constructed of subpar Fear Factory guitarwork and drumming. This one will appeal to the masses, but not to the veteran fans of the band. Bell's vocals are extremely powerful, but that's about it. There's too much repetition and lack of a forward push. The track will probably be excruciatingly good live, though. But where it is in the playlist, it feels as a gap-filler. Never, Never, will this one be anything more than that.
. That's what it sounds like. It's out of place on this album. It just shoudln't be here. It's a completely different style, the same way Cars shouldn't be on Obsolete. It's not that it's bad, it just noise. There's no melody, and the guitars play no more than 4 notes. Today's youth might like it, but this fogie of 26 doesn't. If you like the death metal edge, then okay. I guess it fits there, but NOT on this disc.
crosses a chasm that Fear Factory should have lept over years ago. They don't have to put out #1 hits, or be on the MTV rotation to be enjoyed. This one's soft and very harmonic, so it's not for everyone. In fact, I'm sure most would despise this one for that reason. There's not much lyrically to it, but every instrument perform in perfection to what the Fear Factory of past has stamped into our heads. The drums drive the tune, with the bass kicks and crashes leaping out immediately, even if they're not at 200 beats per minute. The guitars are rhythm only, and Burton's vocals are as powerful as ever. It doesn't sing mainstream, or release, and that's why it's good. Each element becomes a song within itself, showing us what Fear Factory is...something they having done since Demanufacture. Removing all outside influence can really bring out the band's talent. This is a prime example of that.
In typical Fear Factory style, the final track is the longest and uses the most keyboards of them all. Ascension
is boring in comparison to the other discs' finales. Someone found the Windchime instrument on the Casio, so it seems. It's 7 minutes of air whooshes. While their final trakcs have always had a signal of closure, this one is far less dramatic than A Therapy for Pain
. I was disappointed. Seven minutes of near silence. Seems like a cheap way to say "we have enough length for the album". There are far better instrumentals out there. This one's a flop, since the disc isn't conceptual in design.
Throwing in a cover of Nirvana's School
is just another tactic to increase sales, or downloads. It's not a clone like Gary Numan's Cars. It's written from the ground up, but it's nothing special. Get Nirvana's original. It's much more satisfying and less irritating. What was written for one genre often doesn't translate into another, and this is a fine example of that. It's like transforming NIN's Closer into a country song. It just....doesn't.....work.
Fear Factory has changed. And in my opinion, in the wrong direction. While this disc turns a corner, it's definitely not the same corner Digimortal took them around. That was a flurry of semi-concrete tunes, released to satisfy the mainstream, in the hopes of reviving their name after the long downtime. They lost a lot of fans' trust with that release, cruising from being a uniquely sounding and loved group to just one of the many looking to make a buck. They should have realized that they have talent, and didn't have to appeal to anyone but themselves. There's so much mainstream wound into Digimortal that it's strangling them, suffocating their progress.
Archetype is a mix of what made them famous to begin with, with what is keeping them afloat now. There's hints of every prior album. The edgy, death metal sounds of Soul of a New Machine occur more than I expected, to be honest. Demanufacture's melodies are present. Obsolete's fast and furious drumworks, and Digimortal's mainstream sound are also obvious. And that's what bugs me the most. The days of Demanufacture and Obsolete are over. They had a sound that was defined, concrete in structure and glory. Now we have a mishmosh of indecision, with mainstream playlists getting in the way of their growth. They had a chance to push the envelope of their sounds and define a new genre of metal, but they stumbled and hesitated, and now it's too late. The 16-20 year old target audience doens't want that and wouldn't accept it. It's a simplistic cookie-cut sound that sells, and Fear Factory bought into it.
Half of the tracks on this disc are worthy of my attention, and the other half could be dismissed and I'd never look back. The release is coming up, and there are so many Digimortal fans that are anxiously preordering. There are also the Obsolete fans. I use that word literally, not in reference to the album of the same name. I fear that it's over. Unless they can conjure up the original aura that their band produced once again, I will cease to be a follower. That's tough to hear myself say when I look back at how many times I've popped prior albums into the player.