Fear Factory – Genexus (Nuclear Blast)Thursday, 30th July 2015
Fear Factory set the genre standard in many regards with Demanufacture, an album that still sounds as fresh today as it did in 1995. Since then, there’s been ups (Mechanize, Obsolete) and downs (Digimortal) and everything in between. Coming off of The Industrialist, an album with some strong individual tracks but ultimately would have been better served as an EP, the band wisely chose to take their time in releasing Genexus. This maneuver has paid off in spades, with Genexus standing shoulder and shoulder with some of the band’s strongest works.
Genexus has plenty to offer fans of Fear Factory throughout the years. In some ways, it almost feels like a greatest hits, though with more cohesion and flow. You can hear the thunderous drumming and machine gun riffing of Demanufacture on opener “Autonomous Combat System” as the industrial elements fade away. The following track, “Anodized” feels like it could be shoved into Obsolete without anyone noticing. “Church of Execution” and “Soul Hacker” see the band putting more groove into motion, recalling the stronger aspects of Digimortal/Obsolete, while “Protomech” and “Battle for Utopia” give the most ‘epic’ feelings of the album (not to mention some of the most crushing), with the former bringing some elements of “Zero Signal” into recall. There’s even a return to some of the super hooky clean vocals of Transgression’s “Supernova” and Obsolete’s “Resurrection” when you get to “Regenerate,” which contains one of the poppy choruses that the band has done since those days, with the result being absurdly catchy with the galloping riffs in the background. The one pill that some fans may find hard to swallow is that of “Expiration Date,” in which Bell’s clean vocals are surrounded by more upbeat industrial rhythms than guitar/drum fury. But it does fall in line with the band’s tactics of making a melodic closer that tries to tug at the heartstrings.
Burton C. Bell’s vocal performance is the deciding factor in some of the melodic moments. It’s clear he took some time to really put in a standout performance, which keeps the aforementioned “Expiration Date” and “Regenerate” from feeling like hits below the belt (and gives them some added weight). But just as important are his trademark shouts. “Dielectric” and “Genexus” are some of his strongest in a while, proving he’s still a menacing force behind the microphone.
With a new label behind them and a long wait between albums, Genexus proves its worth and Fear Factory’s continued viability in the metal soundscape. While the magic of Demanufacture is something that comes along once in a lifetime, Genexus sits with Mechanize and Obsolete as some of the strongest material Fear Factory has done since.