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Fear Factory - Transgression (CD)

Fear Factory
by Chris Downie at 03 October 2005, 10:04 PM

Just 18 months or so after their monumental comeback album, Archetype, cyber-metallers Fear Factory have returned with their new album Transgression. Not including the two re-mix albums which they released in the mid-90's, this is their sixth LP and after the magnificent return-to-form of the previous effort, much was to be expected of its eventual follow-up.
Fear Factory are a band who helped define Metal in the 90's. Their stunning combination of Death Metal and industrial influences hit the Metal community like a bolt of lightning, yet their future was uncertain after the poor Digimortal album in 2001 (the less said about their venture into Rap-Metal territory, with a guest appearance from members of Cypress Hill, the better!). With the departure of guitarist Dino Cazares at the end of the ill-fated Digimortal tour, few expected the band to regroup, yet with bassist Christian Wolbers replacing Cazares (and Byron Stroud of Strapping Young Lad fame taking over bass duties), they produced a stunning comeback with 2004's Archetype.
After several listens, it disappoints me to say that all the good work they did in reclaiming lost ground has come undone and they are once again in limbo. Since their monumental Soul Of A New Machine debut in 1992, Fear Factory have always had a three-year gap in between albums, so the fact that Transgression surfaced only 18 months after Archetype was enough to set alarm bells ringing. Sure enough, it has all the hallmarks of a rushed effort. Despite band claims that it breaks new ground, there are few genuinely memorable moments contained here.
What is even more striking is the fact that out of only 10 tracks, 2 are cover versions. An ill-advised cover of U2's I will Follow sounds out of place and is reminiscent of W.A.S.P.'s vomit-inducing interpretation of Elton John's Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting. Their take on Killing Joke's 1994 classic Millenium fares better, but is still no match for the original. The use of Toby Wright (Slayer, Alice In Chains) as producer was a good choice on paper, but the sound is decidedly lacking in places. While not as dreadful as St. Anger by any means, the production pales in comparison to the Rhys Fulber efforts of yesteryear.
Looking beyond the dubious choice of covers, what we have is a hastily-compiled collection of songs, with decidedly mixed results. The first 3 tracks are pretty much business as usual, with little deviation from the classic FF sound. However, when the album passes the halfway mark, the tracks Echoes Of My Scream and Supernova bring a surprising change to proceedings. Nevertheless, despite the obvious attempt to break new ground, they fail to have the desired effect and sound rather bland.
Overall, this is a very disappointing effort, from a band who have frustrated as much as they have thrilled over the last 13 years. There is very little to get excited about here. Even the closing track, despite its heaviness, sounds like no more than a b-side from the band's classic era. Where they will go from here is anyone's guess, but on this evidence, it's hard to imagine them ever re-capturing the glory days of the De-manufacture/Obsolete era.

2 Star Rating

540000 Degrees Fahrenheit
Spinal Compression
Empty Vision
Echoes Of My Scream
I Will Follow (U2 cover)
Millenium (Killing Joke cover)
Burton C. Bell - Vocals
Byron Stroud - Bass
Christian Olde Wolbers - Guitars
Raymond Herrera - Drums

Guest Musicians:
Billy Gould - Bass (Supernova & Echoes Of My Scream)
Record Label: Liquid 8 Records


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