Fear Factory have always divided metal opinion. Some have loved them, while others have hated them. That ability to annihilate friendships is what some consider being a great band's most important facet. I, however, have just never been too sure what to make of them. Their talent is undeniable; with the modern classics of Demanufacture and Obsolete under their belt, Fear Factory repeatedly confirm that they are among the frontrunners of the metal scene. However, with other albums such as Digimortal and the remix album Remanufacture it is possibly kinder to emphasise how they are never afraid to try a new direction - whatever the consequences.
With Transgression, a much more melodic feeling runs throughout despite the constant threat of Burton C. Bell's decidedly suspect clean vocals ruining the formula. His sung vocals have worked well previously because they were kept to the required minimum for the music to work efficiently, but when overdone there is a certain amount of cringing afforded to the listener. Sadly, this 'singing' is found immediately on the opening track but, importantly, is it to be a true sign of things to come?
Despite some reasonable riffs found on the title track and 'Millennium' there is little more of any worth backing up what is already there as they merely seem to recycle old ideas and maybe replace some of the better ideas with those of inferior quality. The crowning glory of Bell's abhorrent intonations inevitably comes in the expressionless and unimaginative 'Empty Vision'. They certainly put the song title across adequately enough. Don't even get me started on 'Echo Of My Scream'. That echo haunts my dreams.
While former Strapping Young Lad bassist, Byron Stroud has seemingly revitalised some of the potent heaviness long associated with this band, the switchover from bass to guitar seems to have overwhelmed Christian Olde Wolbers, especially in the wake of Dino Cazares' lost flair. Not even a cameo from former Faith No More bassist, Billy Gould, on a couple of tracks could save this. Even marginally.
It is unclear whether Fear Factory can truly recover from this disappointment. Only time will tell if this band descends into a sad and irreversible fable of parody.
4Raziq Rauf's Score