Reviews: Fear Factory – Genexus

Just in time for the new Terminator film, the premier sci-fi inspired industrial metal legends return with a new album, lineup, and record label. Not to worry Fear Factory hardliners, ‘Genexus’ is just what you would expect.

Starting off with an eerie piano and machine-like voiceover, the first few seconds of ‘Autonomous Combat System’ sets the concept and atmosphere of the album in classic Fear Factory fashion. A cymbal crash suddenly breaks the tension while a reserved, yet heavy pluck of the guitar strings further build the atmosphere. Suddenly blast beats and heavy guitars shatter the atmosphere. Haunting synths soon usher in vocalist, Burton C. Bell, who provides his masterful skill with harsh, yet decipherable lead vocals. The remainder of the song is a powerful piece of heavy metal telling the story of a terminator-like cyborg killing machine with a mix of harsh and clean vocals over blast beats and power chords. For death and industrial metal fans, this opening track is the start of an amazing record.

Like the album opener, ‘Anodized’ is another brutally heavy track based around heavy drums, haunting synths and power chords. Bell’s cleans vocals take a much more prominent role in this track as do his lyrics. But as Burton’s vocals change, so does the music. Whenever Bell switches to his clean voice, the guitar becomes noticeably less distorted and more melodic.

Taking a more theatric approach with a string section, “Dielectric” shows early promise of breaking up the growing monotony of the album thus far. As the strings begin to blend with the synths, the hope remains until crushing blast beats and heavy guitar that we’ve already become rather acquainted with take full control. Once more Bell’s clean vocals and synths take center stage before becoming overtaken by blast beats and the same heavy guitar once more. Unfortunately, this is what one can expect from the remainder of the album. In fact, it isn’t until the seventh track ‘Regenerate’ that the album begins to break the mold with much more variety in the synths and guitars.

Like ‘Dielectric’, ‘Regenerate’ takes a more theatric approach at the opening of the song, while relying more on the synths throughout, giving a more epic feel. Bell masterfully combines his harsh vocals with the guitars and drums making for an extremely satisfying combination that can be best described as a pure, concentrated aggression. As well, Bell’s clean vocals and lyrics are at their best on this track, making for one of the best tracks of the entire album.

Topping a song like ‘Regenerate’ is no easy task and sadly, Fear Factory fails to so with ‘Battle for Utopia’, for although it’s just as enjoyable as all other songs aside from ‘Regenerate’, it falls back into the same repetitive structure as heard through much of the album. Fortunately, the album ender ‘Expiration Date’ not only breaks the mold, it shatters it and discards its remains.

‘Expiration Date’ is as close to a power ballad as Fear Factory can tread. An artsy piece, it blends spoken word, clean vocals, lighter drums, downtrodden piano, and upbeat synths with ominous lyrics about the state of humanity and our eventual demise as an individual and a race. Perhaps it’s due to the extreme difference in composition from the rest of the album, but ‘Expiration Date’ is the perfect end to the album as it touches on the inescapable fact that one day everything we are and know will fade away with sands of time.

Despite only a handful of tracks that truly standout, Fear Factory’s ‘Genexus’ is exactly what longtime fans expect. It’s brutally heavy, provides a well-rounded vocal delivery, and is surprisingly deep with its lyrics. Whether you’re listening for the sheer brutality of the instruments, the versatility of Burton C. Bell, or the aura of philosophy in the lyrics, by the end you just might find yourself questioning humanity’s unending quest for the perfect technology and your own existence. 7/10

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