Fear Factory Archetype

From the opening track "Slave Labor,” the first recording minus founding guitarist Dino Cazares, Archetype is definitely the most rock-based album of their career: not as industrial as previous albums — and certainly not as techno as Obsolete or Digimortal — but more along the lines of 1995’s Demanufacture. The bass lines from Strapping Young Lad bassist Byron Stroud are incredible, and former FF bassist Christian Olde Wolbers, originally a guitarist, steps up to the lead guitar plate smoothly and naturally as if Cazares never existed. Drummer Raymond Herrera is just as vicious as ever on "Cyberwaste,” though its lyrics leave something to be desired — very puerile if they are indeed taking a swipe at Cazares ("Nothing you say/matters to us”). The title track’s lyrics are even more pointed with "The infection has been removed/the soul of this machine has improved.” "Act Of God” is standard FF filler material, and "Drones” starts off on a "Replica” tip with similar beats. "Bite The Hand That Bleeds You” is the definite ballad of the album, and "Undercurrent” is a highlight of Burton Bell’s clean vocals, sounding a bit like his days in ’95 with Geezer Butler’s g//z/r. "Human Shields” is a gentler ditty, while "Ascension” reprises the chorus of "Human Shields” and envelops it in seven minutes of Soundscapes-like ambience, courtesy of Front Line Assembly founder and long-time FF collaborator Rhys Fulber. The band even adds their sonic signature to a cover of Nirvana’s "School,” which is a notch or two up from Paw’s version on their 1998 Keep The Last Bullet For Yourself rarities comp. Being outspoken techies, FF have included in the Archetype digipak a randomly chosen, limited-edition DVD: either a live concert from Australia or a making-of-Archetype documentary. Also, random CDs contain a special code to plug into the label website to see if fans win a Willy Wonka-inspired Golden Ticket, good for a trip for two to see the band live. Fear Factory have streamlined their time-honoured sound on Archetype, and fans will once again bruit their name around as torchbearers of the new industro-metal. (Liquid8)