2015’s Genexus is the Los Angeles Metal band Fear Factory’s ninth officially recognized full-length studio album proper (discounting compilations, rereleases, remix projects etc). It is the third album since guitarist Dino Cazares rejoined the band when Christian Olde Wolbers and Raymond Herrera left. It is also the first album with Mike Heller on drums (although Deen Castronovo plays on single ‘Soul Hacker’) who the band made a point of getting to play live following an online controversy with the use of no human drummers on their previous record, The Industrialist.
For me, it doesn’t matter who played on it, what’s a real instrument and what isn’t; all that matters is if it is enjoyable and memorable. An album could be soullessly generated by a computer algorithm for all I care if it made me genuinely enjoy myself. This is definitely the most memorable and enjoyable album the band have released since 2004’s Archetype in my opinion. It sticks to the same futuristic lyrical well and imagery that the band are best known for, it contains plenty of the same staccato riffs synched-up with the kickdrum patterns that are the band’s trademark, and its got the same Burton C Bell clean/heavy splits… it all sounds very Fear Factory, but crucially the songs are fun, they stick out more, there’s no filler and there’s more bounce and groove than the last three records. It’s a Fear Factory album, and it’s a damn good one. Its not boring, its not repetitive and its not a failed experiment.
Imagine the verses from the band’s heavier album Mechanize, with the choruses from the band’s clean and commercial Transgression, topped with the balance, character and personality of Archetype. That’s the sort of ballpark the band are working in – its not a throwback album trying to recapture Demanufacture or Obsolete, its not a sell-out, its not an attempt to write their most brutal album ever… the band have kind of mixed different aspects from different eras together (Heck; there’s even one or two moments where the Rhys Fulber additions feel a bit like they did on Digimortal for a few seconds).
For me, that mix achieved here is an absolute winner. Having had time to live with the album and let it all really sink in, I feel that Genexus is one of the band’s very best albums, easily in the top half of their discography, and I’d be more than happy to see lots of these songs in live setlists and compilations from now on. Its not a throw-away album by any stretch of the imagination.
Highlights include the ridiculously bouncy single ‘Soul Hacker’ (the most outright fun Fear Factory song this side of ‘Edge Crusher’ or ‘Cyberwaste’), the brief and perfect ‘Church Of Execution’ as well as the crushing ‘Protomech’ and the quieter, more dreamy ‘Expiration Date,’ which almost reminds me of modern-day Anathema at times. Anything on the record is good though, there’s legitimately nothing I would delete or skip at all.
Fear Factory are such an underrated band who never really got their due. Compared to how historically important and influential they are (basically informing much of the music for the next decade), and considereing how any time Roadrunner Records does anything special there’s a Fear Factory connection in some way (boxset series, compilation series, 25th anniversary series, Drilling The Vein, Roadrunner United etc), or indeed just how many people have something positive to say about them… when they come play my city its never to an audience big or passionate enough to reflect this, and that’s kind of sad. I can’t see this album winning over a legion of new fans, I can’t see it thrusting the band to superstar status, but what it definitely can do is satisfy existing fans, cement the different eras of the band’s discography into a more sensible cohesive whole, and raise the band’s stock and hit-to-miss ratio in the right direction. Its one more top quality album to add to the list of good Fear Factory albums. It makes me excited about this band again and makes me feel validated and vindicated after sticking with them through different line-ups and stylistic shake ups of varying quality. It makes me want to talk about Fear Factory all the time again like I used to a decade ago. It makes me want to convert new fans. Most importantly of all, it makes me want to listen to it over and over.
In summary; it’s a mixture of Fear Factory’s heavier and lighter sides, done right, with memorable catchy songs full of character. Its one of the band’s better records to date and I highly recommend it to any existing or potential future fan without hesitation or qualification.