Review Summary: Dreamy ethereal ambient album from ex Fear Factory mainman delivers
After the demise of Fear Factory following the poorly recieved Transgression and internal squabblings which started the downfall of the band when Dino Cazares was uncerimoniously kicked out after Digimortal, lead singer Burton C. Bell looked for a new outlet. I don’t think any Fear Factory fan would have predicted that the music he would have come out with would have sounded anything like Ascension of the Watchers. A complete departure from the metallic onslaught of Fear Factory, Burton teamed up with part time Fear Factory and Ministry keyboardist/programmer John Bechdel to record Numinosum which is a dark goth/ambient/folk style record and will probably disappoint most Fear Factory fans but it certainly merits some attention.
Numinosum sees Burton take us on a spiritual journey through his heart and soul, a truly atmospheric listen that can be rewarding and sometimes rather frustrating. There’s no traditional metal or rock on this album at all, instead it is full of keyboard samples which intertwine with spacey guitar melodies all with Burton’s airy vocals over the top. ‘Ascendant’ begins the journey with the sound of a heart beating which continues throughout the track, samples and orchestral sounds set the mood and Burton’s husky voice utters a few lines before the heartbeat closes out the track. This leads into ‘Evading’ which is the first proper ‘song’ on the album with its layer upon layer of orchestration, acoustic guitars maintain the rhythm and melody while programmed drum beats give the track a great dance beat at times, Burton’s breath like vocals suit this music extremely well. On some tracks he goes from hollow deep goth like vocals up to the beautiful soaring voice that Fear Factory fans know and love.
‘Residual Presence’ continues the atmospheric journey with Burton’s rockiest vocals bellowing “Nothing Ever Lasts Forever” over programmed drum beats. That’s about as heavy as this album gets in terms of rock music, the rest of the album is an ambient orchestral walk through Burtons dreams, sometimes it does work very well, ‘On the River’ has a great melody to it and possibly the best vocals on here. Sometimes it doesn’t work that well at all ‘Canon for my Beloved’ is an 8 minute plodding lullaby where Burtons voice really doesn’t sound that great, almost cracking up at points. ‘Moonshine’ is a decent enough folky song though, you can almost imagine the band sitting around a campfire in a wood singing these songs sometimes.
‘Violet Morning’ is an acoustic lullaby which is insantly skipabble, Bell’s voice not particularly suiting the song on my book. ‘Like Falling Snow’ is an all French sung number which sounds like a French Portishead track. The cover of Simon and Garfunkels ‘Sounds of Silence’ is even more depressing than the original if that’s possible but I suppose in the right mood its a decent enough version. You may as well stop the album there unless you enjoy 10 minutes of train noises and plinking piano’s.
Overall I can always find something in this album that I enjoy, there are enough decent tracks on here to make the record worth a listen. It needs to be listened to in a darkened room alone though I feel. Its a trip through Burtons dreams and thoughts, whether or not you are willing to join him is up to you.