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Music / Fear Factory

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We will never see the end,
We will never be the end.
All of my life I felt discarded,
Never feeling a part of it.

Fear Factory is an American metal band. Formed in 1989, they are well-known for their signature style, which combines death metal, groove metal, thrash metal and industrial metal. They had a large impact on the metal (and "metalium", if you are picky) scene from the mid-90s and onwards, with Machine Head, Chimaira, Devin Townsend, Disturbed and Mnemic all citing them as an influence.

They disbanded in 2002 due to internal disputes, but reformed later that same year without guitarist Dino Cazares, a founding member. They disbanded again in 2006, only to reform again in 2009 with a new lineup, including the returning Dino and drummer Gene Hoglan. This lineup put out a comeback album Mechanize in 2010 and extensively toured to support it. Gene and Byron departed in 2012 and were replaced by Mike Heller (Malignancy) and Matt DeVries (ex-Chimara). Dino and Burton had been working on a new album before this point on their own, bringing in John Sankey (ex-Devolved, ex-Light The Torch) to help program the drums for it. This album was released in 2012 as The Industrialist. Matt left in 2015 and was replaced by Tony Campos. A new album, Genexus, was released that same year.

Not long after the release of Genexus, a lawsuit was brought on by former drummer Raymond Herrera and former bassist Christian Olbe Wolbers over the rights to the "Fear Factory" name. A planned new album, originally titled Monolith, was shelved for a few years. Burton would also suddenly depart from the band in September 2020. However Dino would re-work and finish the planned album with Bell's original vocal tracks intact, which would eventually release in June 2021 as Aggression Continuum.

In 2023, Dino announced that the band had found a new vocalist in the form of Milo Silvestro. They then embarked on their first US tour in several years.

Not to be confused with Fear Factor, Nightmarish Factory, or the Donkey Kong Country track of the same name.

Current lineup

  • Dino Cazares – guitars, backing vocals (1989–2002, 2009–present)
  • Tony Campos - bass, backing vocals (2015-present)
  • Milo Silvestro - lead vocals (2023-present)
  • Pete Webber - drums (2023-present)

Former members

  • Burton C. Bell — lead vocals (1989-2020)
  • Raymond Herrera – drums (1989–2009)
  • Christian Olde Wolbers – bass (1993–2002), guitars (2002–2009), backing vocals (1993-2009)
  • Byron Stroud – bass (2003–2012)
  • Gene Hoglan – drums (2009–2012)
  • Matt DeVries – bass (2012-2015)
  • Mike Heller – drums (2012–2023)

Former live members

  • Dave Gibney – bass, backing vocals (1989–1991)
  • Andy Romero – bass (1991–1992)
  • Andrew Shives – bass (1992–1993)
  • John Bechdel – keyboards, synthesizers, samples (1998–2004)
  • Steve Tushar – keyboards, samples (1996–1997, 2004–2005)
  • John Morgan - keyboards, samples (1997)
  • Jessie Sanchez - bass (2014)

Studio albums

  • Soul of a New Machine (1992)
  • Demanufacture (1995)
  • Obsolete (1998)
  • Digimortal (2001)
  • Archetype (2004)
  • Transgression (2005)
  • Mechanize (2010)
  • The Industrialist (2012)
  • Genexus (2015)
  • Aggression Continuum (2021)

Other notable releases

  • Fear is the Mindkiller (1993): A remix EP, containing remixed songs from Soul of a New Machine.
  • Remanufacture - Cloning Technology (1997): Contains remixes of songs from Demanufacture.
  • Messiah (1999): Soundtrack album for Messiah; contains tracks from Soul of a New Machine, Demanufacture, Remanufacture, and Obsolete.
  • Concrete (2002, recorded 1991): Originally intended to be Fear Factory's debut album, the recordings were shelved until Roadrunner Records released it to fulfill contractual obligations owed by the band.
  • Hatefiles (2003): A compilation of rare, unreleased, and remixed tracks. Notable for containing a couple of tracks from Demanufacture with the rejected mixes by Colin Richardson.
  • Recoded (2022): Contains remixes of songs from Aggression Continuum.
  • Re-Industrialized (2023): A reissue and remastering of The Industrialist, with the controversial programmed drums replaced by live drumming from Mike Heller, new mixing of Dino's guitar tracks, and several new bonus tracks.

Tropes headed with quotes from songs by this band:

Fear Factory Provides examples of:

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  • Anti-Love Song: "Manipulation" and "Leechmaster"
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: "Freedom or Fire" - in which the protester protagonist burns himself to death rather than be taken into custody by the state police.
  • Cyborg - In Digimortal, when the surviving humans and machines realize that they need to depend on, rather than control, one another to survive.
  • Cyberpunk
  • Crapsack World - Demanufacture and Obsolete's dystopias.
  • Darkest Hour: "Descent", "Timelessness".
  • Determinator: "H-K (Hunter-Killer)", "Edgecrusher", "Smasher/Devourer", "Archetype". "H-K" gets bonus points for not only taking its title from De Terminator, but using samples of Kyle Reese's dialogue.
  • Downer Ending - In Obsolete, when the main character, Edgecrusher, gets captured by the Securitron. It is not certain whether his words/thoughts in the song "Timelessness" are when he's in jail, or when he is in the process of being executed. And he was the leader of the resistance too, making Edgecrusher's defeat a double-blow.
  • Grief Song: Well, more of a grief instrumental in the case of Natividad, which is dedicated to guitarist Dino Cazares' mother.
  • Mood Whiplash: The two closing tracks of Obsolete; the heavy but decidedly uplifting "Resurrection" is followed by the depressing and melancholic closer "Timelessness".
  • Murder Ballad: "Suffer Age" was written by Dino Cazares about John Wayne Gacy. "0-0 (Where Evil Dwells)", written about The Acid King Ricky Kasso, too.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Demanufacture", "Replica", "Self Bias Resistor", to name a couple.
  • One of Us: Dino and Burton are huge sci-fi nerds, which is why most of the band's lyrics have sci-fi themes. They're especially fans of the Terminator and Blade Runner movies. The "Tears In Rain" monologue is even quoted at the end of "Expiration Date", as it's written from the perspective of the replicants from Blade Runner.
  • Protest Song: Whilst all of Fear Factory's material is basically anti-authoritarian, "Crash Test" (animal testing), "Hi-tech Hate" (arms industry), "Corporate Cloning" (music/fashion industry), "Securitron (Police State 2000)" (go on, guess), "Crisis" (the military complex) are all more specific in their targets.
    • "Fear Campaign" is essentially a huge middle finger to everyone who uses fear to get themselves obeyed.
  • Religion Rant Song: "Big God/Raped Souls", (("Liar! Big God, no God, BURN!")) and "Desecrate" from Soul of a New Machine with "Act of God" on Archetype give examples of Type 1. Demanufacture's "Pisschrist" is more of a Type 2, though in the context of the album, it also talks either about the anti-machine resistance, or the machine leadership. Although you may not realize it, the Digimortal bonus track "Dead Man Walking" is a Type 2. Mechanize's "Christploitation" is a type 3 talking about how religion is now explored and sold.
  • The Scapegoat: Well, "Scapegoat". It was written after an incident where Dino felt he had been wrongly arrested.
  • Take That!:
    • "Archetype" (the song) at Dino. Interestingly, the band decided to play the song live again some years after Dino came back, re-directing the Take That at former members Christian and Raymond. The pre-chorus lyric of "the infection has been removed" was changed to "the infections have been removed".
      • The song has continued to been played live since Milo joined the band, though the lyric has since reverted back to "the infection has been removed".
    • "Cyberwaste" is directed at people who use the Internet to harass others.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: the concept albums worlds are left deliberately undated, and fit fairly neatly into the not-too-distant future trope.

  • Greatest Hits Album - Released by Roadrunner without the band's permission. It only contains songs up to Digimortal.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: Christian is the only bassist that has actually recorded bass on an album. Usually Dino does it himself because Burton thinks it takes a guitarist to play their bass riffs properly.
  • Celebrity Resemblance - Burton looks like he could be the brother of Donal Logue.

  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: A common feature of Burton's vocal style.
  • Album Closure: Many albums end on the longest track and/or have lengthy outro sections.
  • Audience Participation Song
    • During the last chorus of "Demanufacture" live, Burton holds the mic up to the crowd and asks something along the lines of "WHAT THE FUCK HAVE YOU GOT?", which they proceed to answer by shouting the chorus at the top of their lungs.
    • While the band does not explicitly encourage it, the fans tend to sing along to the chorus of "Edgecrusher" live.
    • Honestly, all of their songs could be this with the right crowd, due to the simple choruses.
  • Careful with That Axe: A piercing growl is heard after the long, extremely quiet (yet gloomy) intro of "Fear Campaign." Way to scare us all, Burton.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Not so much in the music itself, but Burton is very sweary on stage between songs.
  • Concept Album: Soul of a New Machine, Demanufacture, Obsolete, and Digimortal all tell a continuous story.
    • Although a return to the concept album format, The Industrialist follows a different story which is continued with its follow-up, Genexus.
  • Death Metal: Soul of a New Machine and Concrete. There are also trace elements of death metal in the band's other material.
  • Genre-Busting: Honestly, try figuring out what kind of metal they really are.
  • Genre Mashup: Kind of like Bauhaus in that the sound they created is common now, but was downright out of left field when they started. Death metal, industrial metal, grindcore, noise, EBM, rap, and synthpop aren't exactly things you'd expect to hear combined, but that's pretty much exactly what Fear Factory did.
  • Genre Shift: Industrial death metal to industrial groove metal. Obsolete and Digimortal also incorporated hip-hop influences.
  • Groove Metal
  • Heavy Mithril: Most of the band's lyrics focus on science fiction.
  • I Am the Band: Dino Cazares has been the band's only remaining original member since Burton C. Bell left in 2020, though there's an argument that Burton C. Bell himself used to be this too. Burton was the only member of the band perform on all of the albums recorded before his departure, as the band made two albums (Archetype and Transgression) between Dino's departure and return.
  • Idiosyncratic Cover Art: Though some exceptions turn up here and there, the band's album covers usually feature a mirrored and usually symmetrical image resembling their "FF" initials.
  • Industrial Metal: Their main genre. They have even worked with Rhys Fulber of Front Line Assembly on a few albums.
  • Metal Scream: Types 1, 2, and 4. Type 2 mostly only occurred on Soul of a New Machine and Concrete, and virtually all subsequent works saw Burton moving between Type 1 and 4.
  • Nu Metal: They've been lumped in with this due to the hip-hop influences on Obsolete and Digimortal. They have explicitly distanced themselves from it, though.
  • Perishing Alt-Rock Voice: Burton became more and more like this from the Archetype era onwards. People have frequently criticised him for struggling to perform his clean vocal parts live. It got especially bad during the touring cycle for The Industrialist, where he would routinely sing out of tune or even out of key.
  • Rap Metal: "Back the Fuck Up" from Digimortal. It sure was unexpected. Half of the band also contributed to Cypress Hill's Skull & Bones.
  • Remaster: Soul of a New Machine was remastered and re-released in a 2005 digipak that combined it with the also remastered EP Fear is the Mindkiller.
  • Remix Album: Remanufacture — Cloning Technology, a remix of Demanufacture.
  • Sampling: Hard to notice, but most of their earlier songs contained random samples, whether they were quotes or sound effects. Some of the songs unds they sampled were from Apocalypse Now, Blade Runner, and the Demolition Man arcade game.
  • Soprano and Gravel: Burton manages to do this one, all on his own. In fact, he is often regarded as, if not the Trope Maker, then definitely the Trope Codifier for this style of singing by one person in heavy metal.
  • Trope Codifier: One of the codifiers for Industrial Metal, along with Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, and Rammstein.
  • Vocal Evolution: Both inverted and subverted with Burton. He actually got worse as a vocalist over time. While he was able to sing more in a higher range from Digimortal onwards, it was something he really struggled to replicate live, especially when the band returned in 2009. It started to make people wonder whether he was getting a lot of help from studio magic on his later albums with the band. Those theories were perhaps legitimate, as he mostly avoids singing in his higher register on his post-Fear Factory work.