Courtesy of Travis Barker’s cultural renaissance and the prominence of artists like Machine Gun Kelly …
In the mid-1990s, Fear Factory introduced a series of tropes into the metal canon that remain part of the framework of several sub-genres to this day.
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The band’s long-awaited and problematic tenth album sees a final parting of the ways between core members Burton C Bell and Dino Cazares, and if Aggression Continuum in fact proves to be the band’s last album, they will have gone out on a good note, if a typically self-referential one.
As the logical follow-up to Genexus, this album continues the band’s deeper experiments with melody and further accessibility, but Fear Factory’s greatest sin has always been the doggedness to which they stick to the same formula they introduced with Demanufacture back in 95 and haven’t tinkered with too much since. So it is with Aggression Continuum, all machine-precise, militaristic double kick drumming, staccato riffing, keyboard swells and cyber-embellishments, and that alternating gruff bellow/chiming croon that inspired a billion (or at least a few thousand) imitators.
Aggression Continuum offers the occasional stylistic flourish and enough solid tracks to keep fans happy
Opener Recode enters the frame with some dramatic spoken word over scattershot drumming and a swirling string orchestration that becomes the song’s melodic backbone, making this one of the album’s most compelling moments. Disruptor returns to basics, directly recalling the likes of Replica or Edgecrusher. It’s something that this album is guilty of more than once, recycling and rehashing old ideas, but that in itself seems to have been Fear Factory’s raison d’être for a very long time and easy to overlook when they put together slammers like Fuel Injected Suicide Machine and Manufactured Hope. Yet Purity is just dull and Dino’s almost-a-solo melodic guitar run doesn’t really lift the album’s most accessible track, Monolith, above the ordinary.
It’s now difficult to ignore the repetitiveness and fairly interchangeable nature of Dino Cazares’ riff arsenal and Fear Factory’s now pretty predictable songwriting approach, but Aggression Continuum offers the occasional stylistic flourish and enough solid tracks to keep fans happy, while the album’s last track End of Line could, given the band’s current circumstances, prove to be prescient.
STANDOUT TRACKS: Decode, Fuel Injected Suicide Machine, End of Line
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