Rating:
9.3
Fear Factory - Soul Of A New Machine
1992


01. Martyr
02. Leechmaster
03. Scapegoat
04. Crisis
05. Crash Test
06. Flesh Hold
07. Lifeblind
08. Scumgrief
09. Natividad
10. Big God/Raped Souls
11. Arise Above Oppression
12. Self Immolation
13. Suffer Age
14. W.O.E
15. Desecrate
16. Escape Confusion
17. Manipulation


A band's first release is a blank canvas; no expectations placed upon them by fans (because they have next to none), and no pre-conceived ideas as to what may be contained on the release. It is a time where bands can truly record and release what they feel and what is meaningful to them, and provides them with a one-time opportunity to shine.

Fear Factory's first LP, Soul Of A New Machine does just this: shines. From the first minute, to the 55th and final minute, the album takes the listener on a journey of sheer delight through use of heavy, tuned down guitars, pounding drums and a blend of distorted growls and clean ethereal vocals.

The clever use of samples and industrial noises throughout the album also adds to the atmosphere that the title conjures, something that is cold, clinical and mechanical, of which sets the theme of future releases from Fear Factory, blending the darkness of humanity with the robotic relentlessness of machines.

It's clear that the musicianship and technicality on this album is of a very high standard. Raymond Herrera's use of the double kick pedals is second to none, and I don't feel they're overused here, as I believe they were for the band's follow up album, Demanufacture.

The album is full of 3 to 4 minute songs that are hard-hitting and belligerent; a near perfect blend of brutal death metal and grindcore with a twist. And, although I consider this album to be of acute heaviness, I don't feel it's an overly hard listen when one considers the aforementioned blended genres.

There are also moments on Soul Of A New Machine , such as "Scumgrief," where the listener is provided with some respite from the brutality and speed. A slightly slower tempo, mixed with an almost hypnotic chorus via the clean vocals of Burton C Bell, "Scumgrief" conveys the impression that Fear Factory can actually master a melody, whilst still keeping with the heavy theme of the record.

For me, the height of atmosphere and aggression is reached at track 13, "Suffer Age." Opening with just a single guitar crossing from the left to right channel repeatedly, the track slowly builds, with the introduction of bass, drums, and angelic, harmonised vocals; the song does an excellent job in building suspense and expectation as to what's around the corner. And then, at 1m 42s, the corner is turned, and all hell breaks loose. "Suffer Age" explodes into what is best described as a combination of brutal death metal and extreme grindcore, and almost 20 years later, a sound that is yet to be replicated by the band.

Soul Of A New Machine is an excellent debut album, and with the luxury of writing this review after so many subsequent Fear Factory releases, I can categorically say that it's their finest work to date in my humble opinion, and is certainly worth a listen for those who are placed on the extreme side of the metal spectrum.

Performance: 10
Songwriting: 10
Originality: 8
Production: 9


Band profile: Fear Factory
Album: Soul Of A New Machine


 


written by Sonic MrSumo | 11.02.2011


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



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Vikcen - 11.02.2011 at 03:51  
Hehe, nice review.

Crash Test -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhIsuVmEvW0
Sonic MrSumo - 11.02.2011 at 04:32  
Written by Vikcen on 11.02.2011 at 03:51

Hehe, nice review.

Crash Test -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhIsuVmEvW0


"Animals that die, animals that cry"...haha. I prefer the original. This version is a little too refined for my liking.
Vikcen - 11.02.2011 at 04:39  
Written by Sonic MrSumo on 11.02.2011 at 04:32

Written by Vikcen on 11.02.2011 at 03:51

Hehe, nice review.

Crash Test -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhIsuVmEvW0


"Animals that die, animals that cry"...haha. I prefer the original. This version is a little too refined for my liking.


Hehe, i understand. By the way, do you like "Concrete"?
Sonic MrSumo - 11.02.2011 at 05:20  
Written by Vikcen on 11.02.2011 at 04:39

Hehe, i understand. By the way, do you like "Concrete"?


I don't actually have it...I've been meaning to get it for some time. I just noticed that Concrete is not on this site either?
Vikcen - 11.02.2011 at 05:32  
Written by Sonic MrSumo on 11.02.2011 at 05:20

Written by Vikcen on 11.02.2011 at 04:39

Hehe, i understand. By the way, do you like "Concrete"?


I don't actually...I've been meaning to get it for some time. I just noticed that Concrete is not on this site either?


Yes, as compilation: http://www.metalstorm.net/bands/album.php?album_id=3304&band_id=107&bandname=Fear+Factory
Angelic Storm - 11.02.2011 at 08:06  
This was a very unique album at the time. And while I find it as a whole overlong and a bit patchy, in it's best moments, it has an ethereal atmosphere, offset by some vicious bludgeoning. I heard this way back near the time of it's original release, and it's hard to see it now, but back then, this was truly a very fresh and unique sounding album. And Burton C. Bell was a true pioneer when it came to his (at the time) hugely innovative vocal style. xD

For it's historical importance and influence, maybe a 9.3 is warranted, but as a standalone album, it's a slightly higher score than I myself would give it. The album contains some great tracks like the classic "Martyr", "Scapegoat" which is catchy, but still heavy as hell, the battering animal rights anthem "Crash Test", and "Flesh Hold", which pummels you with it's Napalm Death-esque grinding barrage. As a whole body of work, Fear Factory have certainly produced more consistent albums, but the debut was truly groundbreaking, and still stands as their most intense release. Id give it 8.5
Sonic MrSumo - 11.02.2011 at 11:41  
Written by Vikcen on 11.02.2011 at 05:32

Yes, as compilation: http://www.metalstorm.net/bands/album.php?album_id=3304&band_id=107&bandname=Fear+Factory


Right you are. Sorry, I was looking under "demos".

Also, I meant to say in my earlier post that I don't actually have Concrete. Is it worthwhile?
Vitriolic Hate - 11.02.2011 at 15:07  
Written by Angelic Storm on 11.02.2011 at 08:06

...And Burton C. Bell was a true pioneer when it came to his (at the time) hugely innovative vocal style. xD

Absolutely agreed .
!J.O.O.E.! - 11.02.2011 at 16:51  
I personally think people overrate this record a bit, because it's a more death metal orientated album people assume it's stronger. The fact is a large proportion of the songs just aren't very interesting or varied so as Angelic says quite correctly it's overlong and patchy.

I dunno, metallers have an tendency to cite a band's heaviest album as their best and mellowest as their worst (I suppose in Fear Factory's case Digimortal - an album I would choose over this any day as it's far more enjoyable).

Good but not quite great though it probably does deserve a high score for its originality at the time.
Angelic Storm - 11.02.2011 at 22:00  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 11.02.2011 at 16:51

I personally think people overrate this record a bit, because it's a more death metal orientated album people assume it's stronger. The fact is a large proportion of the songs just aren't very interesting or varied so as Angelic says quite correctly it's overlong and patchy.

I dunno, metallers have an tendency to cite a band's heaviest album as their best and mellowest as their worst (I suppose in Fear Factory's case Digimortal - an album I would choose over this any day as it's far more enjoyable).

Good but not quite great though it probably does deserve a high score for its originality at the time.


Very good points Joe, and agreed on everything. xD I think this album could have been great, if the filler was cut away, of which there is quite a lot on the album. It's menacing and genuinely awesome in it's best moments, but those are diluted by the amount of throwaway tracks. It was very original for the time, and has some classic FF tracks on it. But for sure, they've made more consistent and well-balanced albums than the debut.

@Vitriolic Hate: You know it!
Vikcen - 11.02.2011 at 22:30  
Written by Sonic MrSumo on 11.02.2011 at 11:41

Written by Vikcen on 11.02.2011 at 05:32

Yes, as compilation: http://www.metalstorm.net/bands/album.php?album_id=3304&band_id=107&bandname=Fear+Factory


Right you are. Sorry, I was looking under "demos".

Also, I meant to say in my earlier post that I don't actually have Concrete. Is it worthwhile?


Well, viewing that you like "Soul Of A New Machine", yes, it can like you, but remember it is demo and a few songs already are in SOANM (though are enough, 16 short tracks in total). Well, personally it is interesting, was the beginning, i like it.

Songs (that are not in SOANM):

Concrete
Sangre De Ninos
Soulwomb
Echoes Of Innocence
Dragged Down By The Weight Of Existence
Deception
Anxiety
Piss Christ (My favorite of these)
Ulceration
Sonic MrSumo - 12.02.2011 at 01:12  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 11.02.2011 at 16:51

I dunno, metallers have an tendency to cite a band's heaviest album as their best and mellowest as their worst (I suppose in Fear Factory's case Digimortal - an album I would choose over this any day as it's far more enjoyable).

Good but not quite great though it probably does deserve a high score for its originality at the time.


Interesting take. Soul Of A New Machine is very different to subsequent FF records. They changed direction dramatically with Demanufacture, and I think from Demanufacture onwards, they're formula has not changed enough to make their music interesting or challenging. Digimortal was a little different, however for me that album just didn't work (a good mate of mine would disagree with me strongly, as I'm sure you will also !J.O.O.E.!).

I rate Demanufacture very highly both for it's originality and completeness. For me if I want either the Death sound of Fear Factory, SOANM is the pick Iobviously as it's the only one), and if I want the more Industrial / Death sound, Demanufacture is it. I rarely listen to their other records.
Sonic MrSumo - 12.02.2011 at 01:15  
Written by Vikcen on 11.02.2011 at 22:30

Well, viewing that you like "Soul Of A New Machine", yes, it can like you, but remember it is demo and a few songs already are in SOANM (though are enough, 16 short tracks in total). Well, personally it is interesting, was the beginning, i like it.


Thanks mate. I will try and get my hands on a copy for sure.
!J.O.O.E.! - 12.02.2011 at 07:25  
Written by Sonic MrSumo on 12.02.2011 at 01:12

Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 11.02.2011 at 16:51

I dunno, metallers have an tendency to cite a band's heaviest album as their best and mellowest as their worst (I suppose in Fear Factory's case Digimortal - an album I would choose over this any day as it's far more enjoyable).

Good but not quite great though it probably does deserve a high score for its originality at the time.


Interesting take. Soul Of A New Machine is very different to subsequent FF records. They changed direction dramatically with Demanufacture, and I think from Demanufacture onwards, they're formula has not changed enough to make their music interesting or challenging. Digimortal was a little different, however for me that album just didn't work (a good mate of mine would disagree with me strongly, as I'm sure you will also !J.O.O.E.!).

I rate Demanufacture very highly both for it's originality and completeness. For me if I want either the Death sound of Fear Factory, SOANM is the pick Iobviously as it's the only one), and if I want the more Industrial / Death sound, Demanufacture is it. I rarely listen to their other records.

There's no doubt it's a very different entity to everything that came after it. Demanufacture is still directly comparable to Mechanize even after the 15 year gap (which in itself is quite worrying despite how much I enjoyed Mechanize) so this record itself is difficult to rate within the band's discography. I suppose there's not much that compares to this record. But then that begs the question did they abandon this approach because they felt it wasn't working or because of other reasons?
Vikcen - 12.02.2011 at 17:53  
That makes me think one thing :

Written by Vikcen on 11.02.2011 at 22:30


Well, personally it is interesting, was the beginning, i like it.




Or was Demanufacture the begining? hehe
Sonic MrSumo - 14.02.2011 at 00:40  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 12.02.2011 at 07:25

But then that begs the question did they abandon this approach because they felt it wasn't working or because of other reasons?


Whilst I like SOANM the most in their discography, I'm not disappointed that they did change direction after that album. If they didn't, then we never would've got the ground-breaking Demanufacture masterpiece.

It is an interesting question though, as the styles are very different from the one to the next.

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