Fear Factory

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Fear Factory
Fear Factory 2013.jpg
Fear Factory performing at the DNA Lounge in 2013
Background information
Also known as Ulceration
Origin Los Angeles, California, United States
Years active 1989–2002, 2003–2006, 2009–present
Associated acts
Website www.fearfactory.com
Members Burton C. Bell
Dino Cazares
Mike Heller
Tony Campos
Past members Andrew Shives
Christian Olde Wolbers
Byron Stroud
Matt DeVries
Gene Hoglan
Raymond Herrera

Fear Factory is an American heavy metal band that was formed in 1989. They have released nine full-length albums and have evolved through a succession of styles, including industrial metal, death metal, groove metal, and thrash metal.[1][2][3] Factory was enormously influential on the heavy metal scene in the mid-to-late 1990s.[6] Fear Factory disbanded in March 2002 following some internal disputes, but reformed later that year without founding member Dino Cazares, adding bassist Byron Stroud, and previous bassist Christian Olde Wolbers as guitarist.[7]

In April 2009, a new lineup was announced. Cazares returned as lead and rhythm guitarist, and Gene Hoglan as drummer. Bell and Stroud reprised their respective roles, and the band completed a seventh studio album titled Mechanize. Former members Christian Olde Wolbers and Raymond Herrera—both of whom were playing in Arkaea—disputed the legitimacy of the new lineup, and a legal battle from both parties was begun. Fear Factory released its eighth studio album, The Industrialist, in June 2012.[8] Their latest album, Genexus, was released in August 2015.

Over the years, Fear Factory has seen changes in its members, with lead vocalist Burton C. Bell being the only consistent member since 1989. The band has performed at three Ozzfests and the inaugural Gigantour. Its singles have charted on the US Mainstream Rock Top 40 and albums on the Billboard Top 40, 100, and 200. The band has sold more than a million albums in the U.S. alone.[citation needed]


Early years (1989–1990)

Fear Factory was formed in 1989 under the name Ulceration, which the band agreed would "just be a cool name".[9] In 1990, the name "Fear Factory" was adopted to reflect the band's new death metal sound, which was influenced by early British industrial metal, industrial music, and grindcore yet remained rooted in a conservative extreme metal approach; a facet of the band's music that resulted in its wider music audience appeal.

The band's origins can be traced to an outfit formed by guitarist Dino Cazares—formerly of The Douche Lords—and drummer Raymond Herrera in Los Angeles, California.[10] Their first line-up was completed with the addition of vocalist Burton C. Bell (ex-Hate Face[10]), who was allegedly recruited by an impressed Cazares, who overheared him singing New Year's Day by U2.[9][11] Cazares played bass on the first two Fear Factory albums Concrete, Soul of a New Machine and about 60% on Demanufacture, on which Cazares changed many of the riffs during the recording. It took Cazares two weeks to get the appropriate guitar tone.[citation needed] Cazares created, wrote and recorded all the music on the album. Christian joined the band two weeks before they were scheduled to go on tour to promote the album. He has contributed musical changes to a couple of songs on the album. In his own words, this has not been a significant contribution.

Fear Factory's earliest demo recordings are strongly reminiscent of the early works of Napalm Death and Godflesh, an acknowledged influence of the band in the grindcore-driven approach of the former and the mechanical brutality, bleakness, and vocal stylings of the latter. According to Brian Russ of The BNR Metal Pages, the demos are remarkable for integrating these influences into the band's death metal sound and for Burton C. Bell's pioneering fusion of extreme death growls and clean vocals in the same song, which was to become a significant and influential element of the band's sound throughout their career.[not in citation given][6] The use of grunts and "throat singing" combined with clean vocals later defined the nu metal and other emerging subgenres of metal. Many vocalists in today's metal scene use two or more methods of singing and vocalizing lyrics. The band contributed two songs to the L.A. Death Metal Compilation in 1990.[10] The band played its first show on October 31, 1990.[citation needed]

Concrete (1991)

In 1991, Fear Factory recorded a series of cuts for their debut album with the then-little-known producer Ross Robinson in Blackie Lawless' studio. The band's members were unhappy with the terms of their recording contract and caused a delay with the album's release. The band retained the rights to the songs, many of which they re-recorded in 1992 with a different producer, Colin Richardson, for inclusion on their debut release Soul of a New Machine. Meanwhile, Ross Robinson obtained the rights to the recording, which he used to promote himself as a producer. The album was officially released in 2002 by Roadrunner Records under the title Concrete after the band's breakup. The release was controversial because the album was issued because of the band's outstanding contractual obligation and without the approval of every band member.[11]

Fan opinion has been divided as to whether Ross Robinson's production properly captured the intricacies of the band's sound. The released album favored a straight-up approach and Robinson's distinct drum sound. Concrete has become an important album for fans of the early Fear Factory sound; it can be seen as a bridge between the band's sound on their demo recordings and their debut release, Soul of a New Machine, and a blueprint for later songs and b-sides.[11]

Based on the Concrete recording, Max Cavalera recommended Fear Factory to the then-death-metal-focused Roadrunner Records label, which offered the band a recording contract.[9] While the band signed the contract, it has since become controversial because of Roadrunner's treatment of the band during the events surrounding its 2002 breakup. This was reflected in the first album Archetype (2004), which was released following the band's reformation. The opening song with lyrics by Burton C. Bell, "Slave Labor", was direct about the band's feelings on the matter. After working with numerous bassists, Andrew Shives was hired as a live bassist prior to the release of Archetype.[citation needed]

Digimortal and demise (2001–2002)

In early 2001, Fear Factory was asked to headline SnoCore Rock. The success of Obsolete and "Cars" was a turning point for the band; Roadrunner Records was now keen on capitalizing on the band's sales potential and pressured the band to record more accessible material for the follow-up album, titled Digimortal, which was released on April 23rd, 2001.[citation needed] Few weeks before its release, they were touring in Europe with One Minute Silence.

They went on a long headlining North American tour during 2001, then played in much larger European festivals like Bizarre Festival, Pukkelpop, Lowlands Festival and Leeds & Reading Festival. They then went on the first Roadrunner Roadrage tour in North America, toured Europe with Devin Townsend and Godflesh and played in Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Digimortal remained consistent with the band's lyrical evolution; Bell now sang about man and machine having merged and unable to be separated without causing harm. Musically, the shift to simpler, more radio friendly song structures lost the band some of its extreme metal fans. Fan opinion, however, remains strongly divided between those who view the album as a colossal failure, those who associate it with the nu metal movement, and others who say the sound is the same Fear Factory at its core and praise the merits afforded by the Rhys Fulber production.[citation needed]

Digimortal made the Top 40 on the Billboard album charts, the Top 20 in Canada and the Top 10 of the Australian album charts. The track "Linchpin" reached the Mainstream Rock Top 40.[citation needed] A remix of "Invisible Wounds" was included on the Resident Evil film soundtrack, and an instrumental digipak bonus track called "Full Metal Contact" was originally written for the video game, Demolition Racer.[citation needed] A VHS/DVD release called Digital Connectivity, which documents each of the four album periods of the band via interviews, live clips, music videos and tour/studio footage, was released in January 2002.[citation needed]

Although Digimortal had a successful start, the sales did not reach the levels of Obsolete and the band received little tour support. The direction of the album coupled with strong personal differences between some of the band members created a rift that escalated to the point where Bell announced his exit in March 2002. The band disbanded immediately thereafter; its publicists said this was "largely because vocalist Burton C. Bell is tired of playing angry, aggressive music and wants to form a band that's more indie-rock-oriented".[citation needed] In a final collaboration, the group recorded two songs for the video game The Terminator: Dawn of Fate that month.[12] Fear Factory's contractual obligations remained unfulfilled, however, and Roadrunner did not release them without controversially issuing the Concrete album in 2002 and the B-sides and rarities compilation, Hatefiles in 2003.[citation needed] During his time away from Fear Factory, Bell with John Bechdel started a side project called Ascension of the Watchers, which released its first EP, Iconoclast, independently via their online store in 2005.[citation needed]

First return and Archetype (2002–2004)

When you look up the definition of the word, Archetype, it's the actual model from which everything else is copied. Fear Factory is that in my opinion, and Archetype is a defining moment for us. Listen to this record, and you'll know exactly where all these other bands came from.[13]

Burton C. Bell

Over time, tensions within the band developed, between the guitarist Dino Cazares and the other members, particularly Bell. When asked about the breakup in May 2002, Cazares made claims and allegations against Bell and the other members, stating that Fear Factory could continue without Christian and that Raymond Herrera and Christian Olde Wolbers were primarily motivated by money.[14] Herrera responded to these allegations on behalf of the other band members, saying that Cazares was motivated by money and emphasising Wolbers' influence on the band's sound.[15] According to Herrera, the other band members would often come up with new ideas they wanted to incorporate into Fear Factory's sound, but their suggestions were dismissed or openly ridiculed, causing a rift between Cazares and Bell that ultimately led to the band's breakup.[16]

Wolbers and Herrera reunited later in 2002 and laid the foundations for the return of Fear Factory.[citation needed] Cazares was now permanently out of the band. Bell was approached with their demo recordings and was impressed enough to rejoin the band and Fear Factory was re-formed.[citation needed] Christian switched to guitar and Byron Stroud of Strapping Young Lad was approached to join the band as a bassist.[citation needed] He was a member from 2003 until 2012.[citation needed] Cazares continued recording and performing with his side project called Asesino, a Mexican deathgrind band featuring Tony Campos of Static-X on vocals.[citation needed] In 2007, he also started a new group called Divine Heresy, featuring Tim Yeung, formerly of Hate Eternal and Vital Remains, on drums.[citation needed]

Fear Factory made its live return as the mystery band at the Australian Big Day Out festival in January 2004, followed by its first American shows since reforming on the spring Jägermeister tour with Slipknot and Chimaira.[citation needed] The new lineup's first album Archetype was released on April 20, 2004, through new record label Liquid 8 Records based in Minnesota.[citation needed] With Archetype, Fear Factory returned to an alternative, industrial, metal sound; the album is generally considered to be a strong 'return-to-form' record, if not a particularly innovative effort, with most of the trademark elements of the band firmly in place.[citation needed]

Videos were shot for the songs "Cyberwaste", "Archetype" and "Bite the Hand That Bleeds"; the latter featured on the Saw film soundtrack. The band performed on further tours with Lamb of God and Mastodon in the US and with Mnemic in Europe.[citation needed] The new Fear Factory has largely abandoned the direct "Man versus Machine" theme prevalent on earlier releases in favor of subjects such as religion, war, and corporatism.[citation needed]

Transgression (2005–2006)

To the surprise of many fans, Fear Factory announced plans to record and release its next full-length album over a very short period of time with mainstream rock producer Toby Wright, who had worked with Korn and Alice in Chains.[citation needed] This was allegedly due to pressure from Fear Factory's new label Calvin Records, which preponed the album's release date from four months away to just a month and a half so the band would have a new album to support on the inaugural Gigantour, which they had been invited to participate on by Dave Mustaine.[17]

The resulting album, Transgression, was released on August 22, 2005, in the United Kingdom, and on the following day in North America, almost a year after Archetype. The album garnered highly polarized reviews; some critics hailed the album as diverse and progressive, and other reviewers did not receive the record very well.[18] Although the album starts off as a Fear Factory record, subsequent songs include mellow/alt-rock numbers "Echo of My Scream" (featuring Faith No More's Billy Gould on bass) and "New Promise", a pop-rock song "Supernova", and a faithful cover of U2's rock song "I Will Follow".[19]

In 2013, Wolbers posted more details about writing and recording of Transgression and Archetype on his Facebook page.[20] He said he was disappointed with Transgression, calling it half-finished, and blamed the label for the severe time constraints imposed during the recording sessions and for the inclusion of the U2 cover.[17] However, Burton C. Bell said he is proud of the album and sees it as the band "stepping over boundaries".[21]

During 2005 and 2006, Fear Factory promoted the album on the "Fifteen Years of Fear" world tour in celebration of their fifteenth anniversary. The members invited bands including Darkane, Strapping Young Lad and Soilwork to join them on the U.S. leg, and Misery Index to join them on the European leg.[citation needed] Late in 2005, Fear Factory toured the U.S. again on the "Machines at War" tour, with an all-star, death metal line-up of guests in Suffocation, Hypocrisy, and Decapitated; they played old classics from Soul of a New Machine, such as "Crash Test", which they had not performed live in many years.[citation needed]

Hiatus and other projects (2006–2008)

An online statement from Wolbers in December 2006 said the band would return to the studio to record a new album, produced by the band, immediately after the completion of the Transgression touring cycle.[22] That month, Bell confirmed in an interview that the band would leave Liquid 8 Records.[23]

Rather than begin work on a new studio album, the band members briefly parted and began working with other projects. Bell contributed vocals to the songs "End Of Days, Pt.1", "End of Days, Pt. 2", and "Die In A Crash" on Ministry's 2007 album The Last Sucker,[24] and later toured with Ministry in support of the album. In an interview for the website Metalsucks, Bell called this a "dream come true", describing Ministry frontman Al Jourgensen as "one of [his] heroes".[25] In the same interview, Bell talked at length about his new band Ascension of the Watchers, providing insight into the inspiration behind the project's formation.[25]

On March 21, 2008, while Fear Factory was on hiatus, Bell spoke in a video interview about the band's future, saying he no longer wanted to contribute to the violence and aggression he saw in the world with the aggressive type of music Fear Factory produced.[26] Wolbers and Herrera started a new band called Arkaea, with vocalist Jon Howard and bassist Pat Kavanagh of Threat Signal. Wolbers said, "Ironically, half of the Arkaea album consists of songs that were intended to be the next Fear Factory record".[27] Arkaea's debut album Years in the Darkness was released on July 14, 2009.[27]

Second return, internal disputes and Mechanize (2009–2011)

On April 8, 2009, Bell and Cazares announced the reconciliation of their friendship, and the formation of a new project with Byron Stroud on bass and drummer Gene Hoglan of Testament, Death, Strapping Young Lad, Dark Angel, and Dethklok. On April 28, this project was announced to be a new version of Fear Factory without Herrera and Wolbers.[28] When asked about their exclusion, Bell said, "[Fear Factory is] like a business and I'm just reorganizing ... We won't talk about [their exclusion]".[29]

In June 2009, Wolbers and Herrera spoke about the issue on the radio program "Speed Freaks". Herrera said he and Wolbers were still in the band. "[Christian and I] are actually still in Fear Factory ... [Burton and Dino] decided to start a new band, and furthermore, they decided to call it Fear Factory. They never communicated with us about it", said Herrera.[30] Herrera also said the four original members—Bell, Cazares, Wolbers, and Herrera—were contractually regarded as Fear Factory Incorporated, and, "it's almost like them two against us two, so it's kind of a stalemate".[citation needed] The drummer also said he and Wolbers had written eight songs for the next Fear Factory record, but that a "personal disagreement" had arisen between them and Bell, which left Bell not wanting to continue work with the band.[30]

Bell and Cazares later spoke about their reasons for excluding Herrera and Wolbers. Cazares said Bell wanted to reunite the classic Fear Factory line-up of himself, Cazares, Herrera, and Wolbers, but that Herrera and Wolbers refused to be part of any reunion with Cazares.[31] Bell also said he wanted to fire the band's manager Christy Priske, who was also Wolbers' wife, and Herrera and Wolbers refused. Herrera and Wolbers threatened to sign a new record deal without Bell, prompting him to form a new version of Fear Factory without them.[32] In some interviews, Wolbers said Bell had made "growing unacceptable demands", which were declined. He said, "Ray and I wanted what was best for the business and what he [Burton] was trying to change wasn't really good for the business. It was only bad for the business, so that's why he went into that whole phase of hijacking the name and trying to run with it." [33]

Fear Factory featuring Bell and Cazares was due to make its live debut on June 21 at the Metalway Festival in Zaragoza, Spain.[34] However, the show was canceled "at the last minute", apparently because of the legal complications referenced by Herrera. The rest of that lineup's planned performances in mid-2009, which included a tour of the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand that August, had also been canceled.[35] The group said they canceled the tour to finish writing and recording the next Fear Factory album.[36] Despite the canceled performances in Europe, they performed some shows in December in South American countries including Argentina,[37] Chile[38] and Brazil.

During an interview on June 23, 2009, Cazares said he could never have a working relationship with Raymond and Christian again, saying they were too money-driven and criticized the music they recorded on Archetype for being too similar to the band's earlier output. Despite ongoing issues between the two parties, the new Fear Factory went ahead with the recording process. In late July 2009, a short video shot with a cell telephone showed Cazares recording drum tracks with longtime contributor Rhys Fulber. On November 6, 2009, blabbermouth.net said a new album, Mechanize, would be released on February 9, 2010, on Candlelight Records.[39] On November 8, 2009, Fear Factory released a track titled "Powershifter" on YouTube.[40] On November 10, 2009, Bell announced the track list for Mechanize, along with an explanation of each song.[41]

In January 2010, Fear Factory played in Australian and New Zealand tour on the Big Day Out tour, playing their first Australian dates since 2005 on January 17 at Parklands Showgrounds on Queensland's Gold Coast.[citation needed] Fear Factory released Mechanize on February 5, 2010, and began a U.S. tour titled "Fear Campaign Tour 2010", in late March. In August 2010, the band headlined the Brutal Assault open air festival in Czech Republic.[citation needed] In September 2010, Fear Factory toured Australia, New Zealand, and Tokyo as the opening act for Metallica. The New Zealand concerts were in Christchurch, two shows that were brought about by a petition sent to Metallica asking them to visit New Zealand's second-largest city.[citation needed] After the 2010 Canterbury earthquake, the South Island concerts were in doubt, but on September 15, 2010, an official announced the CBS Arena had escaped harm and both shows went ahead.[citation needed]

The Industrialist (2011–2013)

In an interview during the 70000 Tons of Metal cruise, Bell said Fear Factory was planning to write and record a "full-on concept" album, which was due for release in 2012. He said, "We're gonna kind of take a break a little bit, but we're definitely going into the studio at some point and start writing. We wanna take our time doing it. Personally ... Mechanize, don't get me wrong, is a good record—I'm very proud of it—but it's gotta be better than that. I've got plans where I'd like to do a full-on concept again—story, artwork. Just make it real cerebral. But there'll definitely be another Fear Factory record, maybe in 2012."[42] On August 3, 2011, Dino Cazares said on his Twitter feed that he was working and demoing new material for the next Fear Factory album.[43] On January 25, 2012, the band announced the new album will be titled The Industrialist. The album was again co-produced by the band with Rhys Fulber and mixed by Greg Reely.[44]

Byron Stroud left the band early in 2012, saying, "Life's too short to spend it with people who don't respect you".[45] In one interview, Cazares said he did not know why Stroud decided to leave and that he could not play the bass parts on Mechanize, prompting Cazares to do it himself.[46]

In February 2012, former Chimaira guitar player Matt DeVries replaced Stroud. On April 19, 2012, Mike Heller of Malignancy and System Divide was announced as the band's new drummer, replacing Gene Hoglan. At the same time, Cazares confirmed on his Facebook page he John Sankey of Devolved had programmed the drums on The Industrialist.[47] Burton described The Industrialist as another concept album "sonically, conceptually, and lyrically".[48] Cazares also said he and Burton were the two in control of the record's outcome, and that the songwriting on the album was much more "definitive" in regards to Fear Factory's platform sound.[48] On June 4, 2012,The Industrialist was available to stream through AOL Music. The album was released through Candlelight Records on June 5, 2012.[49]

On May 2, 2013, Cazares commented regarding the status of Fear Factory albums Archetype and Transgression, which were recorded without his participation, and the band's decision not to play songs from them live, saying "they don't count" as Fear Factory albums.[46] Contradicting this, Fear Factory played the track Archetype on its 2013 Australian tour in early July, with minor changes to the song's lyrics.[50] On August 2, 2013, ex-drummer Hoglan said he left Fear Factory because he was prevented from participating on the album, and only found out about its completion online.[51]

Genexus (2013–present)

On May 1, 2013, Dino Cazares told Songfacts.com Fear Factory would begin work on a new album after they finish touring in support of The Industrialist. The album was expected to be released in early 2014.[52] On May 13, 2013, Burton C. Bell told Metal-Rules.com, "Fear Factory will continue to tour North America and Europe 2013. We've got some more tours scheduled, some summer festivals next year. During that time our plan is to start writing a new record and we would like to have a new record out by spring 2014".[53] On March 19, 2014, Bell told Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles he would like to have the new album released by August, followed by a tour in September.[54] On September 12, 2014, the band announced it had signed to record label Nuclear Blast and would enter the studio in October. The band also confirmed that the album would be mixed by Andy Sneap, and that Rhys Fulber would again produce it.[55]

The band played their first shows in India, in November 2014, as part of the Weekender Tour, and on February/March 2015, they participated at the Soundwave Festival in Australia and New Zealand.

On May 1, 2015, it was announced that former Static-X and Soulfly bassist Tony Campos joined the band.[56] Later that month, Fear Factory announced that they would release their ninth studio album, titled Genexus, on August 7, 2015.[57][58]

They toured in European festivals in July 2015, and then onto North America, as an opening act for Coal Chamber.[citation needed] From late August until mid-September 2015, the band toured the midwestern, southern and southwestern United States with support from Once Human (starring Logan Mader), Los Angeles melodic metal band Before the Mourning and Chicago rock band The Bloodline.[59] They also announced that they would play the entire Demanufacture album in Europe between November and December 2015, a tour which again included Once Human with the addition of Irish band Dead Label as openers.[60]


Fear Factory's innovative approach towards and hybridization of the genres industrial metal, death metal, and alternative metal has had a lasting impact on metal music ever since the release of their first album in 1992. Fear Factory is noteworthy among contemporaries for its lyrical focus on science fiction, with much of the band's music telling a single story spanning several concept albums. The band has been called a "stepping stone",[61] leading mainstream listeners to venture into less-known, more extreme bands, and are consistently appreciated.[citation needed]

In the liner notes of the re-released version of Soul of a New Machine, Machine Head vocalist Robert Flynn, Chimaira vocalist Mark Hunter, and Spineshank guitarist Mike Sarkisyan cited Fear Factory as an influence.[citation needed] Robert Flynn said his vocal style was influenced by Burton Bell's vocals and Machine Head have been wrongly credited for the vocal style.[citation needed] Mark Hunter said Chimaira's drumming was heavily influenced by Raymond Herrera. Slipknot, Static-X, and Coal Chamber have also mentioned Fear Factory in their liner notes.[citation needed]

Modern bands including Mnemic, Scarve, Stiff Valentine, Threat Signal contain significant influences from Fear Factory's technique and have also credited a substantial debt of gratitude to the band.[62][63][64] Peter Tägtgren of Hypocrisy said, "Fear Factory are close to our hearts" and, "Soul of a New Machine was the influence for me to start my other project, 'Pain'".[65] Devin Townsend of Strapping Young Lad said his main influences for Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing were Fear Factory and Napalm Death. Stroud would later join Strapping Young Lad.[66] In an interview on That Metal Show, Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward said Fear Factory is one of the bands he wishes he could play with.[citation needed]

Band members



Studio albums


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