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Fear Factory

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Fear Factory cover
Burton C. Bell - Vocals
Raymond Herrera - Drums, percussion
Christian Olde Wolbers - Guitar
Byron Stroud - Bass

During a time in modern rock when sameness is celebrated over substance and innovation has been all but forgotten, LA's heavy metal juggernaut, Fear Factory, remains a pioneering force in music. As one of the first bands in modern metal to mix hardcore with industrial beats and synthesizers, Fear Factory also experimented with full album remixes long before the practice came into vogue. Beyond that, vocalist, Burton C. Bell took inspiration from singers like Soundgarden's Chris Cornell, Andrew Eldridge from Sisters of Mercy and The Mission UK's Wayne Hussey to forge a distinctive vocal style blending melodic lyrical delivery with aggressive vocals. That's right; Fear Factory did it first.

"I don't really think about being a pioneer," says Burton. "But looking back at our records and what Fear Factory has accomplished in the past 12 years, I see there's been an effect on the scene. People have followed suit to what we've done. There have been bands doing remix records, and people have also heard my vocals and thought, 'Wow he's so heavy, but then he switches to actual singing. That's a great idea!'" Fear Factory continues in the groundbreaking style many have emulated but none have duplicated on its upcoming fifth full-length release, Archetype.

"When you look up the definition of the word, Archetype, it's the actual model from which everything else is copied," says Burton. "Fear Factory is that in my opinion, and Archetype is a defining moment for us. Listen to this record, and you'll know exactly where all these other bands came from." Archetype is a welcome addition to Fear Factory's impressive discography. Forming in 1990, the band released its debut, Soul of a New Machine, in 1992. The following year's Fear Is the Mind Killer EP showed Fear Factory's willingness to experiment with its music and broaden its scope by placing tracks from its debut in the hands of remixers Rhys Fulber and Bill Leeb of Front Line Assembly. In 1995, Fear Factory released its second full-length album of new material, Demanufacture ; followed two years later by another remix project, Remanufacture (Cloning Technology). Fear Factory reconvened in 1998 for Obsolete, which found the band's well-established style fitting seamlessly into the growing alternative metal boom it helped to spawn. Obsolete became the band's most successful album yet, hitting the Top 100 on the album charts. Fear Factory's profile was further boosted by appearances on several film soundtracks and on the 1999 Ozzfest tour. The band's fourth album, 2001's Digimortal, charted in the Top 40.

With the departure of long-time member, Dino Cazares, and the crucial position of lead guitarist now vacant, a logical replacement was immediately found within the band in bassist Christian Olde Wolbers. "Christian has been a member of Fear Factory for a long time," says Burton. "He initially was a guitarist, but switched to bass. He's a very important part of the machine that knows the inner workings and philosophy of the band. Realizing that Christian understands what needs to happen, Raymond and I knew that he should play guitar." Enter new bassist Byron Stroud, formerly of Strapping Young Lad. "We've been friends with Byron for years and have toured with Strapping Young Lad," Burton explains. "Byron comes from an intense band with very complex parts to its songs, and we needed someone who understands that type of playing. We all like Byron, so we asked him to audition and it worked out."

With the new machine ready to shift into high gear, Fear Factory found a home at Minnesota-based Liquid 8 Records, which boasts an artist roster encompassing diverse musical genres. "People at Liquid 8 are very supportive and hyped on the idea of working with a band like Fear Factory," says Burton. "That's important, because we need people to believe in our music, and when you love something it's easier to work. We're all very comfortable with Liquid 8 and everyone is happy."

Recorded at Rhumbo Recorders in Los Angeles, and produced by the band members, Archetype maintains the signature sound of classic Fear Factory without re-treading the past. "It's new in the fact that it's fresh, but when you hear the record, you'll recognize it as a Fear Factory record -- in both attitude and music style," Burton offers. "All the key elements are still in place. From the very beginning, the essence of Fear Factory was always Raymond's drumming. We know that if you just follow Raymond, that's a Fear Factory riff. With me still being inspired to do both heavy and melodic vocal parts, that's very much the sound of Fear Factory. We still choose to write songs outside the realm of what gets played on the radio, but it's not just about being heavy; it's about writing real songs. Our fans want to hear new material that sounds like Fear Factory, and we've written great songs with a brutal, passionate sound. We're saying to our fans, 'Here, check these out!'

Discussing the songs from which Archetype is built, Burton offers that Fear Factory has always been a story. "I've written our lyrics all these years, so technically Fear Factory's music is the story of my life. Our songs reveal how events and people have affected me and how I observe different aspects of the world. This record is no different. Archetype is very contemporary in how it reflects what's been happening to the band in the past two years and what's gone on in the world itself."

"'Slave Labor,' the lead track, is just brutal, and the lyrics reflect how I see much of the 'music business' in general. One of my favorite songs, 'Cyber Waste,' is a very hardcore, heavy song about people in online chat rooms who just talk shit when they really don't know anything. 'Corporate Cloning' is about all these companies trying to create something that's just not real and 'Human Shield' is taken straight from the headlines. When we invaded Iraq, people were going over there as human shields trying to stop this war. But there are human shields on this side, too. Then the title song, 'Archetype,' defines what Fear Factory is, completely. It has classic Fear Factory parts, and the heavy /melodic vocals, but without being forced or contrived. Modern life is what this whole album is about. The music, the delivery, the forethought and lyrics that say something important; it's all there."

With Archetype set for release in the spring of 2004, Burton, Christian, Raymond and Byron are excited about the future and the rebirth of Fear Factory. "We're confirmed for a small tour in Australia in February," says Burton. "Then when the record comes out, we'll schedule something for the States. Years ago, Fear Factory presented a style that was fresh. People went, 'Whoa, that's interesting. I guess you really can do that; there are no boundaries. You can take it anywhere.' I get excited talking about it. I can't wait to see what's next for the band."

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