Rarely can a musical artist claim to be a true innovator, a creator of their own genre, a revolutionary amongst a sea of sameness. Having invented the "cyber metal" sound, Fear Factory is one of those rare cases.
Formed in Los Angeles in 1990, Fear Factory entered the metal scene with a crushing debut with 1992's Soul Of A New Machine. Combining death metal with an industrial influence, the original lineup of vocalist Burton C. Bell, drummer Raymond Herrera, guitarist Dino Cazares and bassist Andrew Shives was onto something that had not been widely explored. Even Fear Factory's earliest sound was immediately distinguishable by Herrera's intense machine-like drumming and Bell's tremendous dual vocal style, which seemed to effortlessly switch between animalistic growls and clear, operatic tones. Fear Factory had set a new standard in extreme music, a standard they would continue to bear to this very day.
Soon after the release of Soul Of A New Machine, the band would release the Fear Is The Mindkiller EP. Fear Is The Mindkiller was composed of material from Soul Of A New Machine, remixed by Rhys Fulber and Bill Leeb of Front Line Assembly for an added industrial edge. Herrera and Bell's fascination with technology would become a recurring theme for Fear Factory, both lyrically and stylistically, as they would often feature remixes as bonus tracks on studio albums.
In 1995, Fear Factory would release their second full length album, Demanufacture, which further refined Fear Factory's distinct sound. Herrera's beats invoked robotic, mechanical imagery, while Bell's lyrics were bleak and ominous. This was also the introduction of bassist Christian Olde Wolbers, who would replace Shives. The album told a tale of machines overthrowing humanity and human opposition to mechanical progress. The remix album, Remanufacture, was very well received by fans and kept the band fresh in listeners' minds until the release of Obsolete in 1998.
Obsolete saw a creative surge in Fear Factory. The album blended the technological themes of Demanufacture with a more cinematic atmosphere while Bell's vocals reached a new level of refinement. A commercial success, Obsolete saw the band breaking into the Top 100 on the album charts. A headlining spot on the second stage of 1999's Ozzfest as well as the band's involvement in soundtracks to movies like Saw, Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil and video games like Rainbow Six: Lockdown and Donkey Kong Country helped to further cement Fear Factory as one of the premiere artists of the extreme music scene.
Digimortal, which was released in 2001, would be the last Fear Factory studio album to feature Cazares on guitars. Although the album reached Top 40 status, Bell and Cazares were having differences, and Bell left the band. In 2002 the band released their original demo recordings as Concrete and in 2003, an album of remixes and rarities called Hatefiles.
Just when it seemed the band was over, Bell returned and Cazares departed, allowing Fear Factory to be resurrected and create their return effort, Archetype, on Liquid 8 Records. Olde Wolbers took on guitar duties and Byron Stroud of Strapping Young Lad was recruited to handle bass. Archetype was a return to the Demanufacture-era sound, and won much praise from longtime fans and press.
Fear Factory also found a new home for themselves on Calvin Records. An imprint of Liquid 8, Calvin was created by label president Mike Catain, who was very impressed by the band's work ethic. Catain saw Calvin as an opportunity for Fear Factory to bring younger bands on board and give them the creative control that they needed to further their legacy.
Summer of 2005 sees the band preparing to release their fifth studio album, Transgression. Herrera describes Transgression as "very precise and heavy... Burton's vocals soar while the keyboards add a cinematic and industrial feeling." Transgression sees the band working with producer Toby Wright for the first time. "Toby has worked with huge bands like Metallica, Korn, Alice In Chains and Soulfly," says Herrera. "It's definitely interesting working with somebody of his caliber. He's also a really big fan, so it's not like we're just bringing in a heavy hitter who doesn't know what this band is about." Herrera also offers a preview of some of the new material. "Supernova is a mid-tempo song that will likely become a single, while Echoes Of My Scream features classical strings and an operatic sound." With a confirmed slot alongside Megadeth, Dream Theater, Nevermore and the Dillinger Escape Plan on this summer's Gigantour, Fear Factory will soon be bringing Transgression to towns across the country.