Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Fear Factory: Mechanize (2010) Review

Fear Factory's new album Mechanize just came out, and since I'm home with a little guy who has an ear infection I've had some time to listen to it.

The good news is vocalist Burton C. Bell is back--so it's true Fear Factory again, something we haven't heard in almost a decade. To tell the truth, I haven't been interested in anything from the group since his exit.

Musically, the album is mostly in the vein of 1998's Obsolete, sticking to the industrial groove metal they know best--but with added elements of melodic death metal. It's as if they're saying, "Fear Factory is back to stay, and we're going to be heavier than ever." As always with this group, the drumming is what really makes it work, and the inclusion of the legendary Gene Hoglan makes it better than ever I remember. The album does have its "soft" moments (which aren't really all that soft), but those are saved for the end, just in case you want to stop it early.

Lyrically, I wish Bell had stuck completely to the dystopian, mechanical visions of the future rather than dealing with real issues such as religion (or he could sing in a different language or in a death growl so I can't understand him). He can't even get a philosophy which makes any sense, on one hand saying God is a lie ("Christploitation") but on the other being concerned about his soul and praying ("Final Exit"). If I understood it wrong, I can't be bothered to find the lyrics.

As a side note, I'd like to tell everyone my philosophy on lyrics: I'd rather not be able to understand them. Ideally, a vocalist will sing in a dead language like Middle English, Old Norse, Latin, or Ancient Greek. Second best is a living language I can't understand. If neither of those works, vocals in an incomprehensible style are fine as well. Fourth best are lyrics which are so vague or abstract they don't make any sense, fifth best are lyrics I can agree with, and sixth best are lyrics I don't agree with but aren't stupid. In dead last place are stupid, comprehensible lyrics in the English language, so congratulations Bell--despite your enjoyable vocal style, you hit dead last on lyrics.

Aside from the lyrics on a few of the songs, this is a very solid album, and the drumming brings it up a notch from prior Fear Factory releases. The album definitely deserves 4 out of 5 stars.


  1. Actually, I did bother to look up the lyrics on those two songs. It turns out they're not as stupid as I thought. "Christploitation" doesn't seem to be saying God is the lie, but instead the lies are what people say about God.
    "I don't know what god is
    I know what it's not"
    So, it's not so bad. "Final Exit" doesn't say "pray," it says "breathe," and seems to be about suicide.

  2. Interesting that even great lyrics, in a language you can understand, sung by a talented singer, is still behind any singer singing in an incomprehensible style. Why do you prefer incomprehensible/foreign to even well written english lyrics that you agree with?

    I'm just curious. My philosophy is similar, except that it goes 1) all of the above except 2) stupid, comprehensible lyrics in the English language.

  3. BTW I found your blog through your comments on IO, but now believe that your content, writing, and editing are far superior to IO's.

    (What is to happen to Invisible Oranges? Seems alllmost dead over there.)

  4. The reason I prefer lyrics I don't understand is that I find they distract from the music, period. I would probably still put instrumental-only behind even the worst lyrics, though.

    Thanks for that comment. I would have argued with you when Cosmo was still there. You'd think with a staff of God-knows-how-many they could do better, and occasionally they do post something really great. But I'm just one guy (with the occasional guest reviewer) and I write/edit/format each review in 30-45 minutes. This is one of many reasons I sleep a maximum of 6 hours each night. I wish I had more time to devote to more in-depth pieces instead of just reviews, but I think some people seem to like reviews, so I guess that's OK.