I owe Fear Factory a lot. Not only were they my first more extreme show, but definitely brought me into more extreme metal. I was a punk, snobby indie and grunge kid who had previously loved Guns N Roses and shit before it went out of style (I was young and now I know it is cool to like lots of things). I was super into Big Black and taking acid to Skinny Puppy as a teen but sort of scoffed at some heavier stuff as ridiculous. I liked the visually creative and ghoulish White Zombie cuz of the “Thunderkiss” video but hadn’t yet sunk my teeth into much else besides some Pantera, who back in the early 90′s I just thought were hicks who jocks used to beat up little art faggy kids like myself to (of course now I know Far Beyond Driven rules ass).
Anyway…then I heard “Zero Signal” on the Mortal Kombat soundtrack and little did I know how much that band would change my life. The confidence over the years as a singer I gained from Burton sticking to his own unique vocal styles, the introduction to the Roadrunner stable which led me to discovering not only King Diamond but in particular Life Of Agony (a band that REALLY saved my life)…plus countless, countless hours high as fuck jamming out so hard to Demanufacture when I really was in a dark place and needed to escape. Reading Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow- often on acid – and soundtracking it with multiple passes of “Dog Day Sunrise”. Good memories. And being blown away live seeing them the first time in NYC and punk girls hanging from pipes or some kind of overhang at Tramps and the crowd screaming along to the end of “Piss Christ”: “Where’s your saviour now?” Intense. Or seeing them at Roseland with Slayer and Kilgore and they stole the show during “Martyr”.
Over the years I interviewed various members. Most of the classic line up save Christian. All really cool guys. Raymond even once sent me a case of the cocaine energy drink he was marketing with one of the Cypress Hill guys and that shit was like 3 Redbull in one can and was soooo insane. I can’t believe I didn’t croak mixing that with vodka and waitering three floors of this 5 star restaurant one super busy summer in Upstate, NY then going to see Jucifer and rambling at Amber Valentine (now a friend) about how reality was like holographic Buddhism and having a fast heart rate was just knocking on the “doorway”. Jesus.
Anyway, while I am a fan of the classic line up the most it is an injustice to say that they haven’t had numerous rad line ups at this point (Mechanize era was particularly sick as well or the Archetype days when they would really hammer “Cyberwaste” home).
I’m currently reading The Lies Of Locke Lamora, a brilliant fantasy book about an orphan thief in a sort of Venice meets London meets King’s Landing amalgam. It is kind of like if Gene Wolfe had written Les Miserable but with a much more selfish streak amidst the class populism. Fucking brilliant book and so colorful depicting these sort of plague dodging, graveyard hopping street rat pickpocket kids. I love when a book or film or band such as- for me especially lately- the moody but deeply liberating/industrial post punk of (like FF) fellow Gary Numan disciples and pretty much the best new group in forever/Chino Moreno endorsed VOWWS completely takes me out of my element. It allows escapism, but to a world with an underbelly I recognize. Fear Factory’s future shock/future is now lyrical parables and shambling, lonely androids or Terminator obsessed mechanical speed metal moments have always had a very human, bleeding heart that makes them legendary.
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“Scumgrief” , well…the remix from the crucial Fear Is The Mindkiller EP is my first pick. I actually listened to the Remanufacture remix cd (actually tape cuz I am old) over the years, but this EP is often overlooked or shat on. It was VERY important not only for transitioning the image of the band from more death metal to the industrial tinged juggernaut they became, but the disgusting guitar tones, heavily Ministry and Front 242 influenced touches and some of Burton’s harshest era of vocals makes this EP actually feel like the grimiest alleyways of Bladerunner. Plus, any old school death metal head with a more open mind was obsessed with that opening Dino riff to “Scumgrief”, let me assure your punk asses.
“Regenerate” from their most recent album makes this list because it is flat out fucking amazing. Dino’s riffing and the high mix keys…man, that is like some liberating shit that I feel in my mechanical soul. I’m gonna prob cause some controversy saying this but I think Genexus might actually be their third best record (first being Demanufacture and second being Obsolete, in my opinion). The band were hungry again after The Industrialist got mixed reviews for not having a live drummer (I was guilty of this criticism of it as well, though mainly cuz I love the human vs machine interplay of the band’s history and not because the songs were weak. It was a very strong Burton album).
But anyway, Genexus smokes a lot of their already pretty consistently good catalog. The band sound completely on fire on a lot of the tracks. I wish to fuck some of the songs I liked a lot on Transgression had a mix half this good, because there were some real gems on that record that got consigned to anything but the superfan trash heap. “Regenerate” here…this Genexus song is many classic elements plus the more melodic “Descend” side of Dino’s playing paired with his intense speed fix side. It is a perfect example of how they can take you away to another place just as much as any show on SyFy.
“My Grave” from Transgression…well, I am including this because I think if it had a better mix and had opened Transgression instead of not even really appearing on it, well.. it would have been almost as strong an opener as “Shock” was on Obsolete. Burton’s screams sound more full and death metal again, the song is bad ass and punishing with thicker riffing and some very cool clangy and sound effect elements. Imagine putting on a CD and you hear it open with Burton’s vocal like that then the guitars hammer in. Hindsight. Not that it has slowed them down.