Fear Factory - Aggression Continuum (2021)Release ID: 28565
You know how much chaos Fear Factory has added to their industrial metal sound and lyrical themes, but then there's the interpersonal chaos for the band members. The band has been in a feud with drummer Raymond Herrera and bassist Christian Olde Wolbers since their hiatus after Transgression. But then a decade later, those former members and the current members ended up in a lawsuit over the rights to the band's name, which halted production of this album Aggression Continuum. In the end, the unique frontman Burton C. Bell unfortunately had to leave the band. He still managed to record vocals for Aggression Continuum before the lawsuit started.
Still in the heavy/melodic blend they've had since Obsolete, the band keeps up the cyber-ish modern industrial metal sound they've helped developed, and the lyrical themes visualize a Terminator-like post-apocalyptic world with complex yet accessible writing. The heavy thrashy groove metal that was popular in the early 90s had also somewhat affected this band, with them possessing some groove elements, most notable in their recent material, especially Genexus, all while having cold keyboards synths to go with the metal heaviness, like human flesh covering the metallic skeleton. Music lives on, often being revived and dying, and the guitar/rhythm assault helps keep their sound alive. And at the frontstage, Bell pulls off his amazing vocal range from Meshuggah-like growls to melodic cleans, in his final offering with the band...
The maniacal "Recode" begins with a cinematic intro consisting of a Terminator-like speech over dreamy keyboards. Then the massive rapid-fire thrash commences with heavy djenty assault from the guitars and bass, as the keyboards go on in symphonic grandeur to add hope to the desolation. The otherwise mundane verse-chorus structure shows how well-composed the song is when the verses go aggressive and the chorus goes anthemic. A simple structure for this widely-ranged opener of this album! Pounding in rage is the awesome "Disruptor", continuing the heavy groove and bass, while the catchy melody makes this the perfect single it already is. The title track has more frantic thrash in the cyber complexity, though there's some subtle repetition. "Purity" is more melodic, yet the djenty heaviness roams around. And there's definitely more of that blend to continue in this album...
Melodic harmony occurs in "Fuel Injected Suicide Machine" during the chorus, while jackhammering through different riffs and rhythms. Rhys Fulber once again provides keyboards similar to his own project Front Line Assembly. The bridge transition melody is so beautiful! Bell's clean vocals in "Collapse" is very brief compared to other songs, only appearing in the bridge before more of the downtuned metal blasting. With a full-on riff frenzy, "Manufactured Hope" leaves a monumental mark.
Next track "Cognitive Dissonance" hooks you up with prog-ish keyboards, as Dino Cazares blasts along with his riffing and Mike Heller drills on the snare, leading to a catchy chorus that almost leans into alt-metal. After all that mechanical deathly heaviness, "Monolith" is more mid-paced with a rock-out chorus and a rare guitar solo. Pretty good, but not what the ex-members would've wanted. Then we come to the end of the line with the finale "End of Line", probably the best extreme industrial metal song I've heard in a long time, especially those clean vocals. After the last of the thrashy riffing, it all ends with keyboards and narration, just like in the beginning. We'll miss you, Burton....
You can for sure consider Aggression Continuum Burton C. Bell's swansong without a doubt, since he had really kept the band for all those years, leading up to his departure. Nonetheless, he once again helped the band make their attempt to restore the glory of the metallic monument that is Demanufacture. The towering aggression is in line with the smooth melody. The brilliant instrumentation are in excellent interplay with those stellar vocals we won't have more of from Bell in this band ever again. And it's great seeing that guitar master Dino Cazares determined to keep the band rolling. A new future for the band is certain, now that they just found Bell's replacement in Milo Silvestro, whom we haven't anything from yet. But for now, this album marks the end of an era, like that of a certain Marvel hero in Avengers Endgame. (Spoiler alert!)
Favorites: "Recode", "Disruptor", "Fuel Injected Suicide Machine", "Manufactured Hope", "End of Line"
Industrial Metal (conventional)
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