When Dino Cazares' band Divine Heresy was gaining more and more momentum in 2007 and 2008, it seemed doubtful that he would ever be a part of Fear Factory again. But in 2009, the guitarist surprised the metal world by reuniting with vocalist Burton C. Bell in a new Fear Factory lineup that also included bassist Byron Stroud and drummer Gene Hoglan (known for his contributions to Strapping Young Lad, Dark Angel, and other bands). Meanwhile, guitarist/bassist Christian Olde-Wolbers and drummer Ray Herrera -- having left Fear Factory -- were keeping busy with their band Arkaea that year. Mechanize is Fear Factory's first album since Cazares' return, and the Cazares/Bell/Stroud/Hoglan lineup doesn't disappoint. This early 2010 release/2009 recording doesn't break any new ground for the band -- Mechanize is very much a throwback to the industrialized Fear Factory sound of the '90s -- but there is no shortage of passion on scorching tracks like "Christploitation," "Designing the Enemy," "Oxidizer," and "Industrial Discipline" (which is an appropriate name for a Fear Factory tune in light of the major role they played in bringing industrial elements to alternative metal). If Mechanize lacks the freshness that characterized Fear Factory on Soul of a New Machine, Demanufacture, or Obsolete back in their '90s heyday, that doesn't make the performances any less inspired or focused. Cazares (who left Fear Factory in 2002 and spent seven years away from the band) is still a sledgehammer of a guitarist, and he plays like he is thrilled to be a part of Fear Factory again. Mechanize isn't quite in a class with Demanufacture or Obsolete, which are widely regarded as two of Fear Factory's most essential releases. But it's still an album that longtime followers will welcome.
by Alex Henderson