FEAR FACTORY is a band who’ve been around for a very long time now, since 1989 in fact, which was a particularly interesting time of change, in so many ways, for the metal genre (and all it’s sub-genres thereof). In the U.S., Death Metal had essentially just reared it’s shrapnel-toothed, Hellmouth-Head of extremity *(how I so loathe that word and it’s variants, but back then it actually meant something) that vomited and growled out morbid and lurid lyrics, primarily unintelligible and sounding as if two cinderblocks were being rubbed arythmically rubbed back and forth together in front of a microphone. Back then the lyrics usually centered around zombies *(long before they were the over and misused “plague” to the horror genre they have since become, now equally as dull as vampires), carnage of all kinds, necrophilia, sexual sadism/rape, nazi-atrocities, and of corpse, good Old Scratch *(hell, that subject matter had been fodder for metal prose of all varieties, tracable down to metal’s very origins so many, many moons ago, hitting NWOBHM – – – DIAMOND HEAD, ANGELWITCH, VENOM, MERCIFUL FATE – – – on through to some good ole U.S. of A. shit-covered Cock Rock – – – MOTLEY CRUE, LIZZY BORDEN – – – and pretty much in just about every metal sub-genre up to and including today’s almost entirely Luciferion-centrifugal Black Metal – – – second-wave Black Metal bands like DARKTHRONE, MAYHEM, CARPATHIAN FOREST, WAR, etc. – – – most of these bands weren’t even truly Santanic, it was just fun imagery and upset figures of authority but good, to no end, in a far different and more sensitized way than today – – – remember the PMRC, anyone? Or OZZY and IRON MAIDEN records, tapes, and general merch being burned in blazing piles in the streets in the midwest, roundabouts the Bible belt? If not, look it up, it’s some pretty funny stuff).
But there were a couple of Death Metal bands that genuinely stood out from the others, though still falling under the Death Metal heading, for lack of really any other term for what they were doing at that time. A couple of those bands would be GODFLESH and FEAR FACTORY. These were bands who had all the brutality and viciousness Bands like CANNIBAL CORPSE and DEICIDE, but were far more experimental both musically and philosophically, their lyrics touching on a variety of themes of a more socioreligiopoliticism, of individualism, whose influences came from the post-punk/pre-industrial clamoring and hypnotic, drum-machine driven beats of EINSTURZENDE NEUBAUTEN, SWANS, SPK, and BIG BLACK, who’s sonic nihilism was just as grand, if not more so, than the thrash side of their influential equations.
And FEAR FACTORY’S newest lp, GENEXUS, their ninth since 1989’s debut SOUL OF A NEW MACHINE, might in fact be their best, on all counts. Thematically, this album seems to cover all the *(highly logical) hazards and concerns that are sure to present themselves when the event of the Singularity occurs *(supposedly projected to be between 2045-2050, so, if we don’t annihilate ourselves beforehand, our own desire to actually become technology will). It goes down deep, a definite concept album about the swirling horrors that will come with Transhumanism, full-on Artificial Intelligence, our minds and souls taken from us, or handed over by our own free will of hubris; your “identity” and “soul” numbered down to a microchip so that one may “live forever.” Or to have your own limbs taken from you, replaced by slave-work appendages beholden of their own A.I. free will, overtaking that mutation-mistake that makes us all so imperfectly, beautifully human. Wires for veins, oil for blood. Eternal Life on a silicon chip that can be tampered with, that has been designed to be tampered with. That will be tampered with. Congratulations, you’ve become a once-pacifistic, now forcibly turned cyborg machine of destruction, overtaking your own artificially functional mind.
This is not lightweight material. And with Dino Cazares once again back and doing double-duty guitar and bass, their classically unique sound has returned, along with the progression of time and some very well composed technological advances in sound to bolster their technophobic tales of a dystopia run amok with horrific technologies and unfixable mechanized soul-conditions, as once implanted into it’s machine, that chip with your essence is really no longer you. The use of technology to fuel a technophobic concept in and of itself is a beautiful idea put to fantastic use.
FEAR FACTORY have also added a living drummer as well, Mike Keller, to help bolster a slightly more “live” feel in the studio setting, however, not for every song. There is still plenty of drum sampling, programming, and machines involved, a bio-mechanical sound being implemented within all these nightmarish transgressions of transhumanism.
Overall, this is a fine record, with a timely *(if not slightly exaggerated) set of topics about not necessarily the future of the planet, nor of the body, but of the soul itself being viciously, yet ever so slyly, manipulated away from us and replaced with inner mechanisms far more sinister.
GENEXUS is recommended for any fan of FEAR FACTORY, and over the top Industrial Metal fan. Essentially, this will appeal to Heads of both Rivet and Metal, much as FEAR FACTORY always has. They have an upcoming tour of the West Coast and Southwest U.S. planned. Buy the album, and if they are playing near you, check out the tour. I highly doubt you’ll be disappointed with these legends’ performance.
Vincent Daemon, writer, editor, musician, photgrapher, film/music buff and historian, and rabblerouser, can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/vincent.daemon.1 as well as his spontaneously updated blog of writing news and nonsense THE WRITINGS OF A DEPRAVED MIND http://vincentdaemon.blogspot.com/Some of his music can be painfully experienced at http://www.reverbnation.com/vincentdaemonsageofdesire3 His email is firstname.lastname@example.org