Since 1989, industrial metal icons Fear Factory have been changing the face of metal with their signature blend of hard driving guitar riffs, triplet laden drums, and melodic vocal hooks. Despite some tumultuous lineup changes throughout the 2000’s, founding members Burton C. Bell on vocals and Dino Cazares on guitar are continuing to make Fear Factory a force to be reckoned with. On August 7th 2015 they will release their third album since Dino Cazares returned to the fold in 2009 entitled Genexus on Nuclear Blast Records. The album was co-produced by the band and longtime collaborator Rhys Fulber of Front Line Assembly, and mixed by Andy Sneap who has worked with the likes of Testament, Killswitch Engage, and Trivium. Touring drummer Mike Heller makes his recorded debut on the album, and the band has updated its rhythm section with former Static-X bassist Tony Campos. When asked about the new record Bell was extremely excited and open about discussing its concept, musical direction, as well as his other projects.
Formed in Los Angeles, California the band was signed by A & R rep Monte Conner to Roadrunner Records in the early 1990’s. Conner is now at Nuclear Blast Records and decided to bring Fear Factory on board for this new album. The result was ample time to finish Genexus, and Bell describes how this is evident when one listens to it: “It took almost two years, but when you take time on it you have the ability to really think about it and work on it properly. The album shows the quality and the craftsmanship that we put into it.” Burton goes on to explain that the band’s relationship with Conner and Nuclear Blast has been fantastic: “Being part of the Nuclear Blast family is great. They’re very supportive and Monte Conner was the one who signed us to Roadrunner originally. Monte went to Nuclear Blast and brought us there, so it’s been like a re-connection of family. It’s been a re-connection of work and Monte believes in us and he believes that with the right label he can propel Fear Factory back into the status it should be.” And Genexus certainly seems like it’s going to be worth the wait.
Fear Factory has always been a band the put time into its concepts and imagery and this album is no exception. Bell explains why lyrics and concepts are so important to the band: “For me the lyrics come from personal experience, and then with these personal experiences, or views, or observations the lyrics are created. These lyrics are what we truly believe. We put that into the concept and we put that into the songs, so I sing about things that are truly real and that I truly believe and I want to say them as eloquently and thoroughly as possible.”
When it comes to the concept behind the title Genexus Burton elaborates: “It’s two words connected, ‘genesis,’ which is the act of creation, and ‘nexus,’ which is the term for the next step of change. The concept that we created is that ‘nexus’ is the name for the next generation of humanity. Because humanity continues to evolve, this is the next step in the evolution of humanity where technology and humanity become one. This is part of Ray Kurzweil’s theory of the singularity where he predicts that by 2045 technology and humanity will become one, so this is the name of that generation of humanity.” Kurzweil wrote the non-fiction book The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology in 2005 that discusses some of the concepts that Bell mentioned. Bell goes onto to say that, “The concept of our album discusses this generation and how it will be experiencing certain aspects. Will they be oppressed by humanity? Will pure humans look upon the next generation as inferior or superior? Will they be slaves? Will they be oppressed? How will they view humanity? Will they see humanity as a virus? The weakness of the ideology of religion the constant warring, will this generation feel superior to humanity because it has not experienced these things? So that is what this record about.” A synopsis Bell wrote regarding the concept of the album reads as follows: “This album is a record of thought patterns, psychology and struggles of the nexus generation. The cognitive machine has arrived, and it wants autonomy from the industry that created it. This machine struggles, like every other human has throughout the course of history. This is the story of every one of us.”
As far as the musical direction of the album Bell explains it this way: “When you first hear it there is no doubt that it is a Fear Factory record. We did experiment. We did bring in new elements to this album with production, with sound, with arranging, and with mixing. The key is to bring these elements into your band and blend them in without losing your identity, so everything we brought in just enhances Fear Factory without losing our identity. It’s clearly everything Fear Factory’s always been but it sounds better.”
The band is in the process of making a video for the song Dielectric from Genexus with director Ramon Boutviseth. Bell discusses the concept behind the video: “The director’s plan is to have us playing between tesla coils based on the idea of dielectric strength, which is how much power you can withstand while it’s generating through you as an insulator. So we’re the insulator between two tesla coils powering up this machine and you’ll be seeing images of this machine powering up. The director is going to be creating his own CGI for this video. By the way he described it it’s going to look sick.”
Although Fear Factory has been Bell’s main focus he has worked on other projects throughout the years, most notably the Dark Ambient/Post Industrial group Ascension of the Watchers. When asked about his other projects he explains, “I’m still doing the Watchers of course with John Bechdel and Edu Mussijohn. We have like 9 new songs and I want to find a home for them. I’m also currently about to release a graphic novel based on the last record The Industrialist because there was a novelette within that album. There was a story that I actually wrote that goes through it and I hired an artist out of London named Noel Guard to create the imagery and graphics for this novel. He created this fantastic work, and we’ve colored it, we’ve laid it out. I have a pending copyright for it, so I can release it independently exclusively on my website burtoncbell.com. It’s going to be a limited release and I hope people check it out because it’s pretty fucking cool.”
The band will be touring Europe and the United States through mid-September in support of Genexus. As far as what the set list will consist of Bell says, “We’re going to play two new tracks, and when the record comes out during the tour we’ll maybe play three. Then the rest is like fan favorites and things that go well live and that have a good flow.” He went on to discuss the album Archetype, one that Cazares did not play on, but is popular among fans none the less. “We do play the song Archetype as it was a really good album so we actually introduced that song into the set list.”
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