Review Summary: Fear Factory close the Burton era with their first remix album in 25 years, and it upholds the band's high remix standard.
I am not a fan of the metal remix album. Most the time it feels like the remixed songs were rushed by disinterested third parties that could care less about the originals and what made them impactful. Having said that, I’m a big fan of Fear Factory remix albums. I believe the element that allows Fear Factory to succeed where others have failed is their use of Front Line Assembly’s Rhys Fulber. Not only does he have decades of experience in the industrial scene, but he’s also the producer of most Fear Factory albums; he knows what makes these songs good. Despite their success, it has been nearly twenty-five years since the last Fear Factory remix album, but that timeline ends with Recoded
is a collection of remixes from Fear Factory’s previous release, Aggression Continuum
, and thankfully Dino doesn’t try to fix what isn’t broke.
It might be surprising to read, but Recoded
is better than the album it pulls from. The beats are more varied from song to song, the dismantled riffs have more bite and originality, the electronic elements are leaps-and-bounds better, and Burton’s vocal parts are delivered in a way that doesn’t feel nearly as conventional (even though they’re still predictable). These changes make the songs more energetic, more original, and more fresh feeling. As for individual performances, Rhys Fulber is featured on three of the eleven tracks. His specialty, of course, is taking the original tracks and pushing them the rest of the way into the industrial metal realm. His standout track is “Path to Salvation” which is a remix of “Purity”. He takes what was one of the more standard (and bland) songs on the album and completely revitalizes it with a bed swelling synth, a simple underlying dance beat, and sporadic riffy accentuation. The thing is, Rhys has some competition this time around.
Another featured artist is Zardonic. Zardonic, is a Venezuelan keyboardist, DJ, composer, producer and remixer primarily known for his heavy electronic dance music, and his contributions here are excellent – thankfully, since he is responsible for five of the elven tracks. While Rhys’ songs feature the stiff beats of industrial metal, Zardonic brings out more of a grooving rhythmic beat. He’s also gifted at taking the guitar parts and cutting them into versions that are at least as good as the originals, but often better. He is also responsible for the most surprising song on the album, “Worthless” (remix of “End of Line”). “Worthless” is a wonderfully constructed trance track that only uses Burton’s clean vocals, and it is way better than it has any right to be. The final three remixers contribute one song each, and while they’re not as good as Zardonic or Rhys Fulber, they’re still better than the original songs and fill their own little niche. Tyrant of Death delivers the heaviest of the tracks, Rob Gee is easily the most chaotic, and Blush Response is the most abstract.
is Fear Factory’s first remix album since 1997’s Remanufacture
, and it is excellent. It is so good, in fact, that I’m going to go ahead and suggest this be the new era of Fear Factory. Dino doesn’t like using drummers anyway, it seems, and Rhys is an under-utilized asset in the Fear Factory camp; why not just push the band the rest of the way into the industrial metal genre? If you add Zardonic to the mix, I feel like you’d have an album that would sound fresh while still bringing enough classic Fear Factory to make the old fans happy. Anyway, I’m sure that won’t happen, so I’ll just have to be content with the excellent Recoded
and hope the next remix album doesn’t take another twenty-five years.