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Review of Fear Factory's "Mechanize" (2010) *Deluxe*
Recorded in 2009 and released in 2010, "Mechanize" is metal band Fear Factory's seventh album. Released and regarded as an official Fear Factory release, "Mechanize" lacks two previous members of the band who were purposely replaced and excluded, Wolbers and Herrera. The album features two singles, Fear Campaign and Powershifter and debuted at 72 on the U.S. Billboard 200. But I know you don't care about that, you should only be concerned if the album is a solid metal record worth the time to listen to it. Well, I'll enlighten you!
While this is my first Fear Factory review, I've become familiar with their immortal "Demanufacture," so I can provide a good point of reference of overall quality. The entire album, as others they've released, is about a world controlled by machines while man has been contained and controlled. The first song and title track, Mechanize, is a classic example of a Fear Factory song; it's got mixed vocals, technical and incredibly fast drum beats, dark lyrics, and a little interlude after a couple verses which switches back to the set chorus. While not too original in its chorus (which consists of "Mechanize!" over and over again), the song is good for what it is, and a decent introduction to the album.
The next song, Industrial Discipline, has a much better chorus, and a softer one at that. Containing matching drum and guitar patterns, the song carries the same formula as the song before it, and several after. Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Interlude, Verse, Chorus (and then maybe 1 more chorus in a slightly different key). The third song is called Fear Campaign and is the best so far, detailing the use of fear to control the masses. Actually containing slightly-varied composition, this Fear Factory song also has a guitar solo that doesn't blow anyone away, but fits well enough.
Powershifter is a prime example of a song where the mix of harsh and clean vocals works very well. The singer growls, "You want war? You've got war! More than you've - Bargained for!" before melodically singing "Changing my world so I can live, ooohhh." While not as good, perhaps, as Fear Campaign, the song is fast and heavy and on the top half of the album is ordered by quality, withpout a doubt. Christploitation seems to have similar composition in verse as so many other Fear Factory songs, but impresses at 2:36 in the speedy shift characterized by winding high notes after each section. The piano parts fit surprisingly well, but the song is unnecessarily lengthy.
Oxidizer definitely is an example of the potential Fear Factory has for riffing! While not able to satisfactorily distinguish itself from the other songs on the album, or others, for that matter, it contains the speed and aggression you'd expect and love. At this point in the album, a word start creeping up in the back of your head, though you'd prefer it not to: "Unimaginative." Controlled Demolition slows the decent with a creative chorus, but that's all it can boast. You start to witness, yes, they are precise and skilled, but an entire album relying on precision and speed and set song compositions can be, are, detrimental to the overall quality of an album.
Designing The Enemy mixes it up a little with a softer side featuring intermixed heavier and harsher segments which I feel don't belong or work well. Metallic Division almost humorously captures the main criticism of the album in its set speed and repetition, though I think its supposed to be the introduction and segway to the standard album's finale, Final Exit. This song is one of the best on the entire album, providing proof that they had the potential, this entire time, to properly mix a softer, more atmospheric and eerie sound with metal music and not add it in as an afterthought or filler. If only all the other songs had this kind of nature. The last song, on the deluxe edition, is re-recorded from their first album. Not really having a place on the record, it seems it was added as if to say, "Well, at least the songs weren't this simple!"
Suffering from a lack of identity from each song to the next, Fear Factory places too much emphasis on speed and fail to differentiate their sound within the album. The good moments are good, but they seem few and far between.
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