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Monday, August 17, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Horrific future shock from Factory on Genexus but with hope somewhere within the musical mythos

SCIENTISTS at Harvard University have taken the first step towards a cyborg future after successfully injecting an electrical mesh around the brain of a mouse, enabling commands to be sent and received. 1

Before you switch off thinking you've accidentally stumbled upon a tech blog, fear not, because it is more than relevant when sitting down with the new Fear Factory release 'Genexus'.

Cyborgs are a theme that Fear Factory have been obsessed with for some time, and with the Harvard research combined with news that scientists have created a robotic system that evolves one has to wonder what the 'Terminator' future is for our children and grandchildren.

The band are not the most optimistic about that future...not so much as a dystopian future; something far more bleak with contradictions, robotic/human identity crisis all against a backdrop that makes Skynet's plans to destroy mankind seem a cheery little story.

However, on the first couple of spins it seemed a little 'samey' in places, as if the band had dialed in some of the songs. That was until on further spins it dawned that it was so much that the tracks were dialed in, but that the band have re-captured some of what could be said is a classic FF sound.

Opener 'Autonomous Combat System' sets the not-so-cheery tone with a full-on classic merging of Cazares' guitar and Bell's at times pained vocals, with choppy drum and bass lines. The template doesn't change much throughout, and that is not such a bad thing as with it there is a sense of a band emboldened within familiar territory.

'Protomech' and 'Regenerate' stand out amidst the bleakness, but the closing duo of tracks  - 'Battle for Utopia' and 'Expiration Date' tie up musical and lyrical themes.

'...Utopia' sets the climactic scene, with a pell mell assault on the senses, laying a path for the melancholy closer.

Yes, Fear Factory, revel in the sci-fi terror environment, but many miss the allegory within much of the content: that is the struggle for identity in out technologically obsessed present. 'Expiration Date' hits that point in a harrowing, slowed down poem to what death means, and a spoken word close that contains the haunting metaphor that our memories, upon death, will disappear "like tears in the rain".

And, with that closing dirge of despair lies the missing links that so many overlook when it comes to Fear Factory. Yes, the sound never varies too much, but it is a musical expression of intelligence that reaches back through the history of extreme metal and looks forward to the evolution of 'industrial metal' and the evolution of a human existence caught up in the technological seeking of solutions where no problems exist. 42 anyone?

1 - Source BBC Focus Magazine - August 2015

Genexus is out now on Nuclear Blast
Fear Factory play Belfast's Limelight1 on December 11th - be there!
Review by Jonny

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