What do you mean, Fear Factory? Why are you profiling a METAL band, Jonny? Has the Listener’s Guide series jumped the shark already? I’m pre-emptively calling out these potential criticisms, because I’ve got the rest of this guide to prove to you all that this is a band worth writing about.
And they are a band with significant links to my own musical journey. The first “metal” band I developed a taste for, and the first I saw live. “Saw” is actually an understatement – heard, felt, smelt and otherwise lived through in every possible sense. It was thanks to Rhys Fulber’s involvement on some of their most notable albums that I discovered Front Line Assembly, an act who themselves were hugely influential in the development of my tastes in the years to come.
And the members of Fear Factory have significant connections to this “scene” thing I keep referring to. Lead singer and only constant member Burton C Bell is a man of many artistic endeavours, though none of the official records will tell you that he and I have DJed at the same club (Reptile). Not on the same night, mind – but I was once support DJ for his studio ally Jayce Lewis in the same venue.
Guitarist Dino Cazares has been in many bands aside from Fear Factory, largely in the technical metal/grindcore style, but a recent collaboration with Jurgen Engler and Claus Larsen as ‘Die Klute’ ensures even here there’s some connection to the kind of things I normally write about. So there’s two things their Wiki profiles won’t tell you.
And like last time, I have to stress that this is a Listener’s Guide. Not a Technical Guide. If you’re expecting a detailed treatise on guitar pick technique or the intricacies of setting up drum triggers, look elsewhere. Neither am I going to labour over the finer points of the band’s history or any of the past of present politics relating to the lineup. Wikipedia has an extensive biography which might or might not be reliable – it’s full of citation warnings and doesn’t give you any reason as to why you’d want to actually listen to the music, or which of their many albums are worth your attention.
There is going to be a bit of a history lesson, as it’s necessary to track the evolution of their sound. So let’s head back to the start.