If you were hoping Fear Factory would build on the positive response to their Mechanize album and go with a crushing assault of thrash and groove influenced by hardcore and industrial, their new release should hit the spot. The core of The Industrialist is Fear Factory doing what they do best. Even though they've incorporated scores of different styles on their past efforts, they've always sounded the most potent and capable when they keep their aggressive side at the forefront.
They're smart to open each song with an energetic blast of either speed or power/groove, then play some softer parts around the middle, then alternate back and forth. It gives even the tracks that have a little less punch an overall scorching impression. Fear Factory remind me of Machine Head in that they have grown over the years and found the perfect blend of the various styles they play, making their songs cohesive and confident instead of awkward and confused, as both bands have sounded at times in the past.
For this release, I think you'll get the most enjoyment out of it if you're a fan of Demanufacture. They went for that album's ultra-heavy, aggressive approach on Mechanize, but I could swear I heard some traces of Meshuggah on some of those songs. The Industrialist features a greater focus on their trademark, precision guitar-and-drum machine-gun attack established on Demanufacture, enhanced by the incredible drum programming done by John Sankey and resulting in a strong thrash presence overall.
Along those lines, this album also sees notable emphasis on the essential sound effects and keyboard work of Rhys Fulber, who I think of as a full-fledged member of the band. A highlight for me is the Fear Is The Mindkiller vibe he creates on parts of God Eater; awesome song! Make no mistake, The Industrialist is a fantastic album.
One warning may be in order, though. I'm betting quite a few people will be unhappy that this only has eight traditional songs, and that tracks 9 and 10 are both semi-instrumental ambient pieces with intermittent whispered or spoken vocals. I'm not crazy about this being the album's end, but honestly, the first eight songs smoke so hard that it's tough to complain.
Like I say, though, I know some people are going to gripe, but this is a concept album based on a story by singer Burton C. Bell, so I'm guessing that has everything to do with the decision to close it this way. If you get the digibook special edition, you can read the story and try to piece together the connections between the story's tone and those last two tracks. Bottom line is, if you like Fear Factory, you'll be pleased. They've put together a stunning effort that solidifies their return and ought to make any metal fan look forward to their next release. It's a 9.5/10 for me.