One of the cornerstones of the 90s metal scene, so many of Fear Factory's signature elements would wind up in the modern heavy music playbook – from the airtight, hyper-crisp production and machine like drumming and guitar-work, to the combination of harsh/clean vocals and industrial elements and samples. Fear Factory's records Demanufacture and Obsolete are bonafide genre-classics, whilst the band also served as the entry point to the extreme music world to many young ears at their commercial peak.
With 10 studio full lengths to the Fear Factory name – and a host of remix and compilation releases – the industrial metal juggernauts have a slew of legendary tracks under their belts. But, as with any artists with over thirty years of history, there's a slew of forgotten numbers that are deserving of some overdue limelight. With the resurgence of the group under founding member Dino Cazares, now is the perfect time to explore the 10 best Fear Factory deep cuts.
It's also worth mentioning that Fear Factory will be getting completely old school at the upcoming Metal Injection festival alongside bands like Testament, Machine Head, and more! Get all the information and tickets here.
"Battle for Utopia"
Kicking off the list with our most recent inclusion, Genexus' late album highlight "Battle for Utopia" holds the unlucky distinction of being the least streamed cut from that release. It's hard to figure out why though – it packs all the elements of Fear Factory's sound, from the machine gun riffing to a big, melodic chorus, while frontman Burton C. Bell sounds great on the 2015 effort. The record's modern production benefits the band greatly, and frankly "Battle for Utopia" could have been easily used as a single – instead it's been mostly forgotten about.
The early 2002 splitting of Fear Factory was painful, yet it only took to the end of that year for the group to pick it up again – sans Dino Cazares. Bass player/then-new guitarist Christian Olde Wolbers' does a commendable job in Cazares' stead on their 2004 release Archetype, and "Bonescraper" is certainly one of the heaviest songs from this era of the act. It's guitar work admittedly isn't as tight as Cazares playing, but Raymond Herrera keeps things locked down with his mechanical kick drums. "Bonescraper" has unsurprisingly been more or less erased from the Fear Factory canon with Cazares' rejoining and Olde Wolbers/Herrera's departure in 2009.
2012's The Industrialist seemed to fall a little flat in the eye of the metal public off the back of it's predecessor Mechanize. While a lot of the blame gets pegged on Bell and Cazares' – officially the only members of Fear Factory at this point – decision to solely use programmed drums on the record, perhaps rediscovering some of it's lesser known selections could help sway over fans. Later LP belter "Disassemble" is completely overlooked, and has never seen the stage – despite boasting one The Industrialist's best choruses and some thunderous downtuned riffage. The newly released Re-Industrialized beefs up the production with real drums, giving the track even more power, and another excuse to check it out.
Generally (and correctly) regarded as Fear Factory's absolute nadir, the hot mess that was 2005's Transgression suffered badly thanks to some of the band's softest, limpest material and equally weak production. One of the very few redeeming points, "Empty Vision" at least contains some of Fear Factory's key elements, with Olde Wolbers' trying his hardest to salvage some heavy riffing from the frankly terrible guitar tone. It's demo level sound certainly doesn't add any appeal, however a full blown re-mix/re-master would give Transgression some new life, and maybe some more love for the long forgotten "Empty Vision".
Though you'd be hard pressed to call anything from Fear Factory's titanic Demanufacture as ‘underrated', probably one it's least heralded gems is "Flashpoint". A real mashup of their earliest industrial influences brought into the new metal age of the band, the sub three minute track packs subtle Ministry/Godflesh-like atmosphere to the relentless guitar and drums. With the album's least amount of streams and only sporadically seeing the stage, it's safe to say that "Flashpoint" is Demanufacture's least appreciated tune.
"Freedom or Fire"
Potentially the most underrated cut from 1998's Obsolete, "Freedom or Fire" is one of only a couple of songs from their excellent third album to not get onto a Fear Factory setlist. An experimental piece, the dance/industrial influenced beats initial work as a bed for Bell's distorted vocals, before the second half takes over with some grooving drums and chugging riffs. There's a definite hard, frantic edge running through "Freedom or Fire", and with Fear Factory releasing a tonne of material around this time, it's no surprise that a great number like this has been forgotten about.
"(Memory Imprints) Never End"
The final effort from the ‘classic' Fear Factory line up, Digimortal's "(Memory Imprints) Never End" could be their finest album closer to date. Meshing the electronic and industrial world with a slower metal pace, the tune packs shrieking guitar harmonics, filthy bass, shuddering beats and some of Bell's best vocals. Digimortal's deluxe edition also houses some great under-appreciated material – especially the crushing "Dead Man Walking" – but for our money "(Memory Imprints) Never End" should be placed amongst Fear Factory's all-time best output.
An unloved slab of metal from Fear Factory's furious ‘comeback' Mechanize, the 2010 LP is chock full of some of FF's most brutal, low-tuned material to date. The rampaging "Oxidizer" barrels by at a roaring pace – thanks in part to one-off drummer Gene Hoglan – with it's instantly grabbing main motif a big underrated highlight of their comeback trail. Never played live and with low streams, "Oxidizer" is the victim of a great track overshadowed by even better material.
A new track for the Hatefiles compilation – one of the many RoadRunner seemed to pump out in the early 00s – "Terminate" holds a special distinction for being the last Fear Factory song recorded by Cazares in his original run with the group. Grooving and low tuned, "Terminate" definitely seems to be a preview for an album that would never come; a natural progression from 2001's Digimortal, but with thicker, heavier riffing. Sadly, this is the closest the Fear Factory fanbase got to a Cazares' affiliated sequel to that aforementioned LP.
From their debut Soul of a New Machine, "W.O.E." has not been played live by Fear Factory in almost three decades. While a lot of the first Fear Factory material lies in the realm of grindcore, "W.O.E." is one of their earliest examples of the machine gun-like riffing and drum work they'd become famous for. Definitely a real Napalm Death like sound to the first half, but it's melodic break with Bell's clean vocals is another sign of things to come from the band. Only sticking around for two and a half minutes, "W.O.E.", like a lot of the Soul of a New Machine/Concrete material, deserves a serious revisit by most metalheads.
How did we go, Fear Factory fans? What deep cut tracks would you have included in your list? Let us know in the comment below!