Wednesday, 23 June 2021

ALBUM REVIEW: Fear Factory, "Aggression Continuum"

By: Richard Maw
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 18/06/2021
Label: Nuclear Blast

“Aggression Continuum” CD//DD//LP track listing:
1.  Recode
2.  Disruptor
3.  Aggression Continuum
4.  Purity
5.  Fuel Injected Suicide Machine
6.  Collapse
7.  Manufactured Hope
8.  Cognitive Dissonance
9.  Monolith
10.  End Of Line
The Review:
Back in the dark days of 1995, Fear Factory truly sounded like the future. “Demanufacture” was a monster of an album which featured a then-ground breaking mixture of harsh and clean vocals, pro-tools production and computer processed sounds, industrial tinges and some truly memorable songs. Cazares, Bell, Hererra and Olde-Wolbers seemed like it might be them who usurped Metallica with their science fiction, weaponised, mechanised version of heavy metal... except, things didn't work out like that.
The band followed up “Demanufacture” with very pale imitation albums, lost their place at the vanguard of metal via the rise of nu metal, line-up changes and the plain old bitter pill of missed opportunities. The tension and fractures within the band are well known so “Aggression Continuum” sees Burton C Bell appearing on the album and delivering a very good performance, but no longer a member of the band for the album's release. Completed by the very capable rhythm section of Tony Campos (bass) and Mike Heller (drums), this record HAD to be good.
The good news, though, is that the record is very good! The last FF album, “Genexus”, was also good and saw me regain interest in the band back in 2015 (is it that long?!). “Mechanize”, half a decade prior, was serviceable and of course lifted up a level by Gene Hoglan's involvement. The band have thus put out a couple of good albums over the last decade. I haven't heard “The Industrialist”- and I'm sure the band would understand my stance against human beings being replaced my (drum) machines. They still plough their futuristic furrow and bring to mind Robocop, 2000AD, Terminator and Terminator 2 with most tracks.
So, “Aggression Continuum” picks up where “Genexus” and, indeed, “Demanufacture” left off. It is pummelling (“Recode”), it's machine like. It has synths. It has solos (“Monolith” has a great one), it is inhumanly precise and has all the best hallmarks of what makes Fear Factory unique and a top tier metal band.
If you want aggression, there is plenty of it- “End of Line” is a relentless finisher and jam packed with the types of production quirks you expect from the band. “Fuel Injected Suicide Machine” sounds exactly like it could have been on “Demanufacture” and sit proudly with the likes of “H-K (Hunter Killer)”, albeit with a melodic chorus that echoes synth wave as much as metal. In fact, the synth wave genre or even sound-tracks (Carpenter et. al.) looms large here. Fear Factory have managed to conjure up the same bleak, robotic atmosphere and it is an aural delight.
Fear Factory have been writing about a dystopian future in which the population is tightly controlled and humanity is threatened by technology for decades now. It is sublime timing that this album should see the light of day when these things are happening more blatantly than ever before, and it seems that the band have captured the zeitgeist once again. Where they go from here is anyone's guess. Bell has gone, apparently never to return. It is a shame and a lamentable bookend to his time with the band- he IS the voice of Fear Factory and he and Cazares made some incredible music together.
“Aggression Continuum” is available HERE 

Band info: Official