Well here we are in 2021 with a brand new Fear Factory record due this Friday (June 18th 2021). Fear Factory – Aggression Continuum features original members Dino Cazares on guitar and Burton C. Bell on vocals. Original bassist Christian Olde Wolbers and drummer Raymond Herrera are no longer part of the band and the circumstances around the album’s release are very interesting. According to wikipedia:
On September 2, 2020, Dino Cazares announced he would be releasing new Fear Factory music in 2021. Less than a month later, Burton C. Bell announced he quit Fear Factory citing “consistent series of dishonest representations and unfounded accusations from past and present band members”, leaving no original members left in the band besides Cazares. However, Bell’s contributions to their upcoming album will remain, as he recorded his vocals in 2017.[74Wikipedia
Internal band drama aside, this album is a motherf**king rager. If you are a fan of Fear Factory’s brand of precise, industrial metal you will not be disappointed. Let’s dive into a track by track breakdown.
The first track Recode starts with a spoken word intro and has a lot more keyboards than I’m usually comfortable with in a Fear Factory song. The typical machine gun style riffing with the kick drums is here but it’s eclipsed by very loud keyboards and industrial sounds. The hook is a melodic vocal line coupled with keyboard strings hovering atop the typical Fear Factory sound. Different for the band but an epic introduction all the same.
Disruptor is more in line with the type of Fear Factory sound we all know and love. This makes sense since it was the first single teased for the album. The track comes in hard right out the gate with an off-kilter riff and abrasive vocals. Near the end the track has a melodic vocal hook that ties it all together.
The title track Aggression Continuum starts with another industrial style intro… a very epic build up before it explodes into all out war. “No more will I be a victim – no more will I starve.” is the refrain screamed by Bell during the chorus. The song again ends with a very melodic chorus over synthesizers. Up until the end, this track sounds a lot more like classic Fear Factory than the first two.
Track 4 Purity begins with a much less aggressive tone showcasing more of the melodic keyboards that float above the heavy riffing and tie the song together. There are a lot of interesting synthesized sounds throughout the track during the breakdown and chorus sections.
While track 5 Fuel Injected Suicide Machine has one of the most brutal names on the album it also showcases what is one of the more “pretty” and melodic chorus’ in the track listing so far. There are a few breakdowns as well that continue to rely heavily on the synthesized strings to weave a melody. The track fades out with a classy sounding keyboard and piano piece that melts into a sinister sounding synth. Don’t get it twisted… this is a great song that showcases the bands versatility.
Collapse begins with a warning to evacuate the streets that sounds like the kind of thing you may have heard being blared from police vehicles during last summer’s riots. It gives you the impression that the title is making reference to society at large. “Everything you’ve ever known is coming to an end” declares Burton C. Bell – this is the type of post-apocalyptic computer metal that Fear Factory basically invented.
Track 7 Manufactured Hope is another throwback to the good old days of Fear Factory. The chorus could have very easily appeared on an album like Demanufacture or Obsolete.
Right out the gate Cognitive Dissonance is heavy and disorienting in the same way a Meshuggah track is. The song then breaks into a soaring chorus that works to make the verses and breakdowns sound even heavier.
Monolith has one of the most interesting weaving of heavy and synth sounds on the tracklist so far. Definitely a bit of a departure – in a good way.
The last song appropriately titled End of the Line is – in my opinion – the heaviest song on the album. The way it kicks in, the breakdowns… There’s one little stutter breakdown the band does that almost sounds like a computer glitch – it is absolutely brilliant. There is definitely a pattern here where the band starts the tracks out brutal and heavy and then veers into a more melodic type chorus near the end of the track. This one is no different – near the ending it breaks down to a spoken word piece and soaring melodic chorus backed by strings.
All in all Aggression Continuum is a great album that warrants repeated listens. The band breaks a lot of new ground with their sound without losing it’s edge. It’s sad to hear about the internal turmoil in the band because that means that Burton C. Bell won’t be touring with the band and that’s a shame. His contributions to the album are obviously very important and to replicate that live without him is going to be damn near impossible.
You can purchase or stream the album here.