Fear Factory – Digimortal

People are already talking about Fear Factory’s upcoming album, Digimortal. The word on the street is that this album has the potential to break FF into the mainstream. Is Digimortal all it’s cracked up to be?

Sort of.

Both Digimortal and Obsolete, Fear Factory’s previous release, are concept albums. While Obsolete was more of a linear story, Digimortal is a collection of songs describing a future world. In this future world, technology (a constant theme throughout Fear Factory’s albums) has become intertwined with human life. Even though in the future your body is still mortal, your memories can be “uploaded”, and later be redownloaded into a clone of your future self, thus creating a symbiotic relationship between technology and human life – Digimortal.

While nine or ten Fear Factory fans will find this theory amazingly interesting (and if you do, go rent Ghost in the Shell – same exact story, but came out 4 years ago), the rest of us will hopefully see through the technical jargon and get down to the music – and that’s what Fear Factory is all about.

The good news is that Fear Factory hasn’t tried to reinvent themselves on this album. The tight, TIGHT double bass, the crunchy thick laden guitar layers, and Burton C. Bell’s patented vocals laid over techy-sounding keyboards are all still there, in spots.

If there’s bad news to report, it’s that there’s not much new or exciting here.

Demanufacture is one of the toughest albums I’ve ever heard in my life. It’s an hour long sonic assault that doesn’t give you a rest. Each song attacks with an intensity unlike any album I can think of. Obsolete, their previous effort, gives you a break almost in between every song. Heavy song, light song, heavy song, light song. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for Fear Factory for a hard rockin’ fix, this obviously means you have half as many songs to pick from. Digimortal follows this trend. There are a few rockin’ songs, but lots of big, open singing vocals, lots of keyboards trying to sound majestic, and overly long open chords trying too hard to make these songs something they’re not. So, out of 11 songs, you’ve got 4 or 5 rockers, and a lot of filler. This album sounds and feels a lot like Obsolete part II, except whereas Obsolete was based on a big human/robot war (ie: Terminator), this one is based off of the works of William Gibson.

The lowest point of the album is track 8, “Back The Fuck Up,” featuring Cypress Hill’s B-Real. Anthrax and Public Enemy did this years ago – and the result is, neither band has a major label recording deal at the moment – take the hint. I’m a closet fan of rap and an huge fan of extreme music, but just like hanging out with my buds and sloppy sex, some things still don’t mix well.

The most disappointing thing about the whole package is, we know FF is capable of better. No one beats Fear Factory at their own game. No one is tighter. Period. And to hear them wasting their talents playing back up gangsta to B-Real makes me wanna put a “hole in they head.”

01. What Will Become
02. Damaged
03. Digimortal
04. No One
05. Linchpin
06. Invisible Wounds
07. Acres Of Skin
08. Back The Fuck Up
09. Byte Block
10. Hurt Conveyor
11. Never End

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