photo & text by nacrowe
its readily apparent that INDUSTRIAL METAL pioneers FEAR FACTORY were on a creative roll when they created OBSOLETE (ROADRUNNER, 1998) in the late 1990s. they always had next-level CRUSHING METAL staccato riffage a la DINO CAZARES as well as VOIVOD-inspired lyrical fever dreams of a FUTURE DYSTOPIAN STATE controlled by ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE through the creative mind of singer BURTON C. BELL, especially on the much CELEBRATED previous DEMANUFACTURE (ROADRUNNER, 1995) album. but OBSOLETE took these sci-fi themes and punishing sonic BRUTALITY, not to mention the songwriting, to an entirely new plateau on tracks like "EDGECRUSHER," "FREEDOM OR FIRE," "SMASHER / DEVOURER," "HI-TECH HATE" and most memorably throughout the EPIC centerpiece "RESURRECTION." this was music believably written by a FUTURE SINGULAR CONSCIOUSNESS somewhere between MAN and ROBOTS lamenting the loss of HUMANITY. there is a leve of thematic and musical COHESION on this record that arguably was never matched again in their discography, despite other SEMINAL efforts like their follow-up release DIGIMORTAL (ROADRUNNER, 2001).
i came to be aware of FEAR FACTORY when i saw their BLISTERING set at OZZFEST 99 in support of OBSOLETE from the previous year. what caught my attention was the RIDICULOUS precision of their live set. this was the era of NU-METAL and guitars that were positioned in the frequency range of basses and employed simple guitar riffs that were meant to establish a GROOVE. the result was a muddled sonic affair. in contrast, FEAR FACTORY was almost a throwback in terms of aural heroics to the right-hand PERCUSSIVE tightness and GALLOPING, rhythmic dexterity of RENOWNED THRASH guitarists like JAMES HETFIELD (METALLICA), SCOTT IAN (ANTHRAX) and JEFF HANNEMAN (SLAYER). CAZARES takes that level of precision and melds it with PROGRESSIVE INDUSTRIAL elements that opens a new world of staccato rhythms and counterintuitively, deep GROOVE. to my ears it outdid similar achievements by the likes of MINISTRY or MACHINE HEAD. i was a fan on the spot.
its funny that with the currently rolled out advancements in online ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE chatbots like CHATGPT and GOOGLE BARD, that this PHILIP K. DICK / ISAAC ASIMOV / WILLIAM GIBSON / ARTHUR C. CLARKE / H. G. WELLS future is seemingly at our doorstep and the themes of FEAR FACTORY and OBSOLETE in particular are as RELEVANT as ever. makes me wonder what an actual METAL album by a COMPUTER would sound like. i highly doubt itd be as unrelentingly BRUTAL or creatively COHESIVE as OBSOLETE.
but who really knows?
parodies by nacrowe
it seems every time i become completely jaded by music i reach for INDUSTRIAL bands like THROBBING GRISTLE, FRONT 242, EINSTURZENDE NEUBAUTEN, SISTER MACHINE GUN, CABARET VOLTAIRE, FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY or SKINNY PUPPY to essentially reset my expectations anew. there is just something so invigorating about music that discards convention and attempts to remove the HUMAN ELEMENT entirely, creating ideally something MECHANICAL and devoid of nuance and sensitivity. of course, even in that INTRIGUING pursuit those human embellishments still find their way into the composition, but the attempt in and of itself is LIBERATING.
i definitely got drawn into this genre via the INDUSTRIAL METAL variant that became popular in the 1990s thanks to bands like MINISTRY, FEAR FACTORY, KMFDM, RAMMSTEIN and of course NINE INCH NAILS. i think there is something about the booming DISSONANT NOISE of METAL guitars that blends seamlessly into the highly SYNCOPATED RHYTHMIC PATTERNS of INDUSTRIAL MUSIC that just makes the HYBRID SOUND an INTOXICATING and OVERWHELMING LISTENING EXPERIENCE. it can also be DANCEABLE which is awkward territory for METAL in general, but oddly it works.
like any genre, things do become STALE over time and GENRE CONVENTIONS calcify into GENRE ORTHODOXY, both on the part of the players and the audience, but one band that continues to take chances both in terms of TONE and PRESENTATION is MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT. their whole DEBAUCHED, SEXUALLY-LIBERATED vibe definitely utilized the ROTE stability of the RHYTHMS into something else entirely: a FREAK, idealized future vision of a world devoid of government world orders and corporate overlords that allowed for individuals to effectively pursue pleasure unencumbered by OPPRESSIVE social structures and religious institutions. an EDEN in essence. the ROBOTIC nature of the music is somehow inverted to be something inarguably LIBERATING and REVOLUTIONARY. MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT is easily on of my favorites of the genre.
embedded below is a DEER GOD RADIO episode from 2020 (just before the pandemic) on nonprofit internet radio station MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC dedicated to various INDUSTRIAL bands. enjoy!
parodies by nacrowe
join us TONIGHT at 8PM EST for an all new episode of DEER GOD RADIO on MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC with a playlist celebrating the traveling summer METAL circus that was OZZFEST!
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO are available here at the DEER GOD website as well as in the MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC archives.
and if you haven't done so already, make sure and download the FREE PHONE APP for IOS/ANDROID and enjoy listening to MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC 24/7 at your convenience!