Review Summary: This time more melodic and accessible, Dino Cazares and Burton C. Bell prove that they still have what it takes to make a visceral Fear Factory album.
Fear Factory’s music is pretty recognizable. Just about any song in their discography is going to feature drums in lockstep with chugging guitar riffs, sporadic industrial influences, and Burton C. Bell shouting through the verses while singing through the choruses. It’s a simple formula the band have tweaked in small ways for just about every release. These small changes have always been enough to give each album its own identity without breaking from the Fear Factory mold. Soul of a New Machine
is the band’s death metal album, Demanufacture
is the ground-breaking industrial metal release, Obsolete
has groove, and Transgression
is basically alt. metal… you get the idea. Genexus
continues that trend of minor changes, and comes away with an identity of its own.
When compared to the rest of Fear Factory’s discography, Genexus
is going to be defined by its accessibility and the amount of melody present. A majority of the melodic elements come from the band’s industrial influences. Rhys Fulber has stepped up the amount of actual keyboard melodies to the point they almost share equal prominence with Dino’s riffs (especially on the second half of the album). These melodic industrial elements are intermingled with the ‘found sounds’ and synth noises that have always been prominent in the past. Dino, too, has embraced just a bit of a melodic element to his playing. That doesn’t mean he has suddenly discovered something beyond the almighty chug, just that there are definitely more tonal shifts in his riffs than on any other Dino-led Fear Factory release. This increase in melody culminates in Fear Factory’s most atmospheric and downright catchy closing song ever, ‘Expiration Date’. The song features a programmed and rhythmic beat, layers of melodic keyboards, and a superb (even uplifting) vocal performance – it’s the perfect way to close out the album.
While on the topic of vocals, Burton Bell delivers another excellent performance on Genexus
. His shouts are still as powerful as they were on Demanufacture
, and his clean vocals continue to improve with each release. Of course, there’s no denying his singing range is still fairly limited, but the improved choruses and conviction in which they’re delivered tend to pick up any slack. This combination of strong choruses and prominent melodic elements is really what defines Genexus
. An argument could be even be made for a song like ‘Regenerate’ being the most accessible and catchy song in Fear Factory’s career; and that’s really saying something. ‘Soul Hacker’ even takes things a step further with a surprisingly melodic guitar solo, a Killing Joke-inspired chorus, and a fairly moderate tempo.
Even when compared to Transgression
is easily the most accessible album in the Fear Factory discography. This is due to a more dynamic use of tempos, an increase in melodic industrial elements, better songwriting, and maybe even a slight drop in intensity. The industrial sounds are no longer limited to ‘found sounds’ and samples with occasional, subtle melodic moments; there are actual full-blown melodies woven throughout just about every track. These melodic elements never overtake Dino’s wall-of-riffs, but they’re definitely more prominent and developed than ever before. No one is ever going to mistake Genexus
for anything other than a Fear Factory release, but the band’s slight alterations have produced a change in sound that is minor in execution, yet significant in scope.