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Fear Factory

Fear Factory was one of the first bands to fuse the loud, crushing intensity of death metal with the cold harshness of industrial electronics and samples, producing a more varied sonic palette with which to express their bleak, pessimistic view of modern, technology-driven society. The band's mastery of subgenres reached an apex on the 1998 concept LP Obsolete, which became a mainstream hit thanks to a steely cover version of Gary Numan's "Cars." Despite enduring myriad lineup changes over the decades -- vocalist Burton C. Bell was the group's sole constant member before departing in 2020 -- Fear Factory has remained both relevant and potent, issuing unrelenting and forward-thinking efforts like The Industrialist (2012) and Aggression Continuum (2021) that continue to push at the boundaries of extreme metal. The group was formed in Los Angeles in 1990 by vocalist Burton C. Bell (formerly of Hate Face), percussionist Raymond Herrera, and guitarist and ex-Douche Lord Dino Cazares. Following their contribution of two tracks to the L.A. Death Metal compilation, Fear Factory signed to Roadrunner Records and released their debut album, Soul of a New Machine, in 1992, which featured new bass player Andrew Shives, added to allow Cazares to play guitar on tour. The following year's Fear Is the Mind Killer EP showed Fear Factory's willingness to experiment with their music and broaden its scope by placing tracks from their debut in the hands of remixers Rhys Fulber and Bill Leeb of Front Line Assembly; the EP also marked the debut of keyboardist Reynor Diego, who along with Fulber joined the band as a touring keyboardist. Shives was fired in 1994 and replaced by Christian Olde Wolbers. In 1995, Fear Factory released their second full-length album of new material, Demanufacture; it was followed two years later by another remix project, Remanufacture (Cloning Technology), which this time featured contributions from a number of different remixers, including many techno-oriented artists, as well as more input from Fear Factory themselves. Steve Tushar replaced Diego in 1996. The members of the band have performed in a number of side projects, the most notable of which is Cazares' and Herrera's Brujeria; others include G/Z/R (Bell) and Nailbomb (Cazares). Fear Factory reconvened in 1998 for Obsolete, a record that found the band's well-established style fitting seamlessly into the growing alternative metal boom. As such, it became the band's biggest hit yet, hitting the Top 100 on the album charts. Fear Factory's profile was further boosted by appearances on several film soundtracks and on the 1999 Ozzfest tour. Their next album, 2001's Digimortal, entered the charts in the Top 40, but by the next year vocalist Bell decided to leave the band. Cazares was the one who eventually left the band, however, while Wolbers moved to guitar and Byron Stroud (Strapping Young Lad) was hired for the bass spot. Amidst the lineup changes, Roadrunner dropped the band and, in 2002, issued their original 1991 recordings on the compilation Concrete. Fear Factory moved to Liquid 8 for 2004's Archetype. The equally merciless Transgression followed in August 2005. Disappointed with Transgression and feeling that they had been pressured into rushing the album out, Fear Factory went on hiatus while the bandmembers pursued other projects. Eventually, Bell and Cazares reconciled their friendship, and in 2009 the pair re-formed Fear Factory with Byron Stroud on bass and Gene Hoglan (who also played with Devin Townsend, Death, and Dethklok, among others) on drums, much to the surprise of Herrera and Wolbers. Fully operational yet again, Fear Factory began manufacturing records, releasing Mechanize in 2010, followed by the 2012 concept album The Industrialist. In late 2014, the band announced that they had signed with Nuclear Blast and would be releasing their ninth studio album, Genexus, later that year. Tony Campos (formerly of Static-X) replaced Stroud on bass, and Malignancy's Mike Heller took over the drum stool. The album, produced by longtime collaborator Rhys Fulber, dropped in August 2015. A barrage of legal issues and creative and personal differences preceded the arrival of the band's tenth studio LP. Released in 2021, Aggression Continuum was recorded over a five-year period and was the last outing for longtime vocalist Bell, who left the group in 2020.
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