Fully MechanizedFear Factory is perhaps the most extreme band ever to make a dent in the mainstream. I actually picked up a copy of Obsolete as a prize at my post-prom, of all places, back in 2000. Fast-forward to 2010, and the real Fear Factory's comeback album Mechanize was one of the first album reviews I ever wrote, giving it a 4 out of 5 star rating. You could say I'm a fan.
The Industrialist is a continuation from the core Fear Factory Obsolete/Mechanize industrial groove metal sound that I'm sure you already know, complete with the catchy, clean vocal choruses that let them put their feet in the door of the mainstream. Since there's no innovation or change in direction here, it's pretty easy to set it side by side with the other records in their catalog to see how it stacks up.
The core of the record consists of three absolutely killer tracks: opener "The Industrialist," "New Messiah," and "Dissemble." The latter has a Meshuggah/djent chord or two, but aside from that all you need to know is they are blistering and memorable, just as Fear Factory should be. But outside of those, the record can be extremely tiresome. It almost loses me somewhere between the end of track 4 and the beginning of track 8. And I think I know why.
While it's not that the rest of the record is utterly forgettable or boring, there's something about the soullessness of a drum machine. As I noted in my review of Mechanize, "the drumming is what really makes it work," and there's no actual drummer. The incredible Gene Hoglan was of course not able to record, so instead of waiting for him, or finding a suitable replacement, they programmed it all. It's painfully obvious in the intro to the record, but the quality of the first few songs makes up for that. But after a while, the absence of soul becomes horribly obvious. Some people may argue that a drum machine is acceptable for an industrial metal band, or any band that's supposed to have a mechanical sound. Tell that to Tomas Haake.
The absence of true soul brought in by a flesh-and-blood drummer--even one as precise and apparently mechanical as Hoglan--makes The Industrialist drag in the middle. A few songs overcome the handicap, but overall it's just an OK album, when listened to completely. Yet again, I could barely make it through Streetcleaner, so maybe it's a problem with me. But the way I see it, this is the weakest FF record with Bell and Cazares on board.
The Verdict: 3 out of 5 stars
Buy The Industrialist