Review by Shadowdoom9 (Andi) for Fear Factory - Soul of a New Machine (1992) Review by Shadowdoom9 (Andi) for Fear Factory - Soul of a New Machine (1992)

Shadowdoom9 (Andi) Shadowdoom9 (Andi) / November 27, 2022 / 0

In the somewhat distant past of the year 1992, metal genres were kind of at war. Before that year, thrash/speed metal were on the rise, and then came death metal/grindcore, and finally, industrial/alternative metal. Those 3 genre categories were competing for the reign, and the first one lost its fame, the second one became underground, and the third one became mainstream. One band was up to mixing the extreme underground with one of the metal genres hitting commercial success those days...

Back in those times, most metal bands seemed to focus on making compositions based on a particular riff, rather than full-fledged arrangement. Released in the same year as the debut of another band that started off as death metal (Amorphis), Fear Factory's debut Soul of a New Machine built their sound from a technological concept. The tone and arrangement are as important as the composition in the songs, and that then-rare aspect is what made this band unique in their debut, showing that there's a little more to metal than just guitars and vocals in front and bass and drums in back. Industrial ambience, spoken samples, and more bass prominence make their entrance!

The opening track "Martyr" already shows the band's audacity of beginning with a verse of brutal guitar and growls and then switching to a clean bridge midway through. Well played! Personal relationships cover the lyrics for that song and "Leechmaster", the latter being heavier and deathlier. The criminal justice system has its flaws pointed out in "Scapegoat". Then "Crisis" adds clean singing over heavy chords. "Crash Test" is about lab animal tests, so I'm guessing the "crash" is from the death metal crashing.

"Flesh Hold" continues the band's rage against the justice system. Then they tackle hypocrisy in religion in "Lifeblind", combining the death metal of Hypocrisy at that time with industrial. "Scumgrief" marks the return to the full form of the balance between clean hooks and deathly heaviness. The percussion intermission "Natividad" was written in memory of the late mother of guitarist Dino Cazares. Then "Big God/Raped Souls" continues the band's attack on religion's downsides. The more political "Arise Above Oppression" has more of the album's destructive side.

"Self Immolation" emphasizes on industrial metal's signature aspects of mechanical rhythm and audio samples, showing the genre's effective development progress. "Suffer Age" starts with tight guitar before the bass and drums join along with background cleans. The riffing continues to expand alongside the drums. Then finally, EXPLOSIVE DEATH METAL CHAOS!!!! The dominant drums and vocals work with the guitars to tear this f***ing place apart! They stay steady despite the samples and tempo changes. Then there's a clean bridge before more of the deathliness. It ends a bit abruptly, but still worth some fun in a mosh pit. There's melodic treasure to be found in the deathly sea midway through "W.O.E." Then "Desecrate" switches to something different, but the usual death metal rampage. The most severe growls from vocalist Burton C. Bell come in "Escape Confusion", right from the most deathly beginning. "Manipulation" unleashes the last of the deathly destruction for this album.

So this band's journey all started with the idea of combining the industrial metal of Godflesh and the deathgrind of Napalm Death into their own unique mix with mechanical riffing with some bits of melodic alt-metal and groove metal. It's a pretty great fresh idea that was never tried before and has proven highly influential. Of course, the issue here is the big amount of tracks (17) that many people can't remember all of. However, it's so cryptic and unique that your mind won't turn away from such creativity and aggression that was uncommon outside the underground in the early 90s. Not too over-the-top while not too accessible, this band sure knows how to conceive and present such a game-changer. Once rare but now more common is unique genius....

Favorites: "Martyr", "Leechmaster", "Crisis", "Scumgrief", "Self Immolation", "Suffer Age", "W.O.E.", "Escape Confusion"

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