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With Genexus, Fear Factory forges a new hyper-alloy of sound, extreme and idea. “We wanted to create a new hybrid,” states guitarist and founding songwriter, Dino Cazares. “Something that summed up every aspect of who we are. Musically. Lyrically. You can hear the organic, the technological; the past and the future. It’s the next evolution of Fear Factory.”
Genexus is the sound of Fear Factory in-extremis. Co-produced by the band with longtime collaborator, Rhys Fulber, and mixed by Andy Sneap (Testament, Killswitch Engage, Trivium), it’s Fear Factory bringing every weapon in its sonic arsenal to bear. From the concrete-breaking staccato riffs that open the record with “Autonomous Combat System” to the soaring melodies of “Dielectric” to the album’s elegiacal closer, “Expiration Date,” Genexus is an unforgiving and unforgettable statement from a band that has long pushed the boundaries of extreme music.
“We’ve always had a thirst for technology; whether it be in how we make our records or how we view the world,” says Cazares. “That’s always helped us stay a step ahead and remain relevant. That was the feeling we had when we started the band 25 years ago and that’s how we approach our music now. We’ve never wavered.”
Indeed, the shadow of the Los Angeles-based band has loomed large, coding the blueprint for industrial metal that’s informed the likes of Rammstein and Nine Inch Nails. Fear Factory also merged the idea of melodic vocals emerging from death-metal-derived screaming before it became modern metal’s de-riguer. With a history that stretches over seven full-fledged studio albums and two landmark remix EP’s, Fear Factory has not merely gone on to sell millions of records but they have also gone on to alter the DNA of mainstream and underground hard rock and metal.
The impact of technology has been hard-wired into Fear Factory’s astringent lyrical zeitgeist since deploying 1992’s genre-shattering debut LP, Soul Of A New Machine. Future-Shock thematics and dystopian detritus litter the band’s aural landscapes. Voiced by founding frontman Burton C. Bell, the struggle for humanity becomes Fear Factory’s singular howl in the face of an ever-deepening technological abyss where topics, including cloning, artificial intelligence and various shades of personal and social dehumanization, have turned from science fiction to present-day fact.
“‘Genexus’ is a play on words that describes what is happening whether we like it or not,” says Burton, explaining the title of Fear Factory’s latest album. “Genesis is the beginning. Nexus is two things connecting. It’s the next stage in human evolution, where humans become more machine-like and machines become more human. We’re approaching what is called ‘The Singularity,’ where that difference will become almost invisible to the naked eye.”
In addition to culling inspiration from cautionary tales including sci-fi classics like Blade Runner as well as contemporary classics like Ex-Machina, Cazares and Bell have turned to not only admonishments about the destructive possibilities of artificial intelligence spelt out by the likes of Stephen Hawking and Space-X founder Elon Musk but also the possibilities of transcending biological limitations spelt out by futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil in his book The Singularity Is Near. In his book, Kurzweil postulates a near future where artificial intelligence and nanotechnology is seamlessly integrated into what we know and human (and machine) existence.
“Ray Kurzweil has predicted that The Singularity will occur around 2045,” says Dino. “If you look at how much technology is part of our daily lives from advances in medicine to things as simple as how attached we are to our smart-phones, it seems almost unavoidable. In fact, people like Stephen Hawking are predicting that it’s going to happen a lot earlier.”
Asked to describe the recording process that went into the creation of Genexus, Bell is quick to sum it up in a single word: “Cathartic.” Sessions for the record stretched for several painstaking months between 2014 and early 2015. In addition to working with Fulber once again, the band also enlisted young producer Drew Fulk, known for his work with Motionless In White and The Amity Affliction, to help draw out and fully capture a new vocal intensity from Bell. If there was a goal, it was simple: “To make sure that we put our heart and soul into this record,” says Bell. “From working with Drew on the vocals to working with Andy Sneap, we got the best out of ourselves while reconnecting with exactly who we are. We’re at an age of distinction and we needed to make sure that that came through.”
Genexus also signals the retooling of Fear Factory's relationship with A&R legend and Nuclear Blast Entertainment head, Monte Conner, who signed the band to Roadrunner Records for such landmark recordings as 1995's Demanufacture and 1998’s Obsolete, the latter of which went on to sell half a million copies in North America and become Fear Factory’s first gold record. “I am excited to be reunited with this legendary band and am proud to say that Genexus ranks right up with their very finest works,” says Conner, who initially signed Fear Factory from LA's early 90’s backyard metal sect based on a tip from then-Sepultura (and now Soulfly) frontman, Max Cavalera. “There is no other band that sounds like Fear Factory. The second any of their songs start, you instantly know it is them. The fact that a band who are 25 years into their career can still make music this vital is a true testament to their longevity and undeniable skill.”
“We’re very excited to be working with Monte again and the whole Nuclear Blast family,” states Cazares. “It feels like the early days of Roadrunner in terms of the enthusiasm and excitement for the bands and for metal itself.”
Since recharging Fear Factory's lineup in 2010 when Cazares (who had taken a several-year hiatus from the band to pursue other projects including Asesino and Divine Heresy) and Bell, also known for his work with Ascension Of The Watchers, came roaring back on the scene with the tensile-strength albums: Mechanized and its 2012 follow-up, The Industrialist, Fear Factory's line-up has been in a constant state of evolution. With touring drummer Mike Heller now making his recorded debut on Genexus, the band has freshly alloyed its rhythm section with the addition of former Static-X bassist, Tony Campos, who has also served with Soulfly as well as industrial metal heavyweights, Ministry and Prong.
"We're known Tony for years," states Dino. "He comes out of the same 'backyard scene' that we did. When hair metal was all that was going on in the clubs in L.A., we had to create our own backyard parties in East L.A. and South Central L.A. to have a place to play grindcore and death metal.. When Tony was in Static-X, we took them on their first tour opening up for us. It was perfect timing for him and us. I’m actually surprised it didn't happen sooner."
While Genexus is rooted in the struggle of man vs. machine and cyber vs. organic, Burton Bell is quick to point out that at its core, the album’s message is profoundly personal. “It’s very much about defining and coming to terms with what you are and who you are,” says the vocalist. “It’s a record that everyone can relate to. Conceptually, it does ask the question: ‘Who am I?’ which is a key question to life itself, just asked from a very Fear Factory point of view.”
The Machine has become self-aware. Genexus is the sound of man and machine having dreams and nightmares of electric sheep. Witness the birth of a new Nexus.