Legendary metal band Fear Factory have returned, with another 49 minutes of cyber metal, a style they basically created. Fear Factory have such a distinctive and individual sound that when you hear them you instantly know who it is, and it still, after 30 years, brings a thrill of excitement. Well, it does to me at any rate.
Aggression Continuum is the sound of a band that know exactly what they are doing. This album finds the band playing at the height of their powers. Every song hits the mark, full of catchy heaviness the likes of which the average band just cannot seem to pull off as well. With music that’s as well-written and delivered as you would hope for from a band of this stature, Aggression Continuum is an triumph. In fact, I don’t think I was prepared for quite how good this album is.
Fear Factory’s latest release is packed with colossal rhythmic heaviness, aggressive hook-driven structures, and crushing mechanical guitars, demonstrating in no uncertain terms that the core of Fear Factory remains as brutal as ever. Alongside this, however, are the massive choruses, emotive layering, and nuanced depths that have proven so effective over the years.
Every Fear Factory has its own character, and Aggression Continuum‘s is flavoured by the music’s strong keyboard presence. They’re appropriately sci-fi in feel, and play a variety of roles across the album, including providing musical highlights, electronic enhancements, atmospheric layering, and symphonic grandeur.
Apparently this is likely to be the last album featuring iconic vocalist Burton C. Bell. If this does turn out to be the case, then it’s a very strong way to end a 30-year era. The vocals are always a high point of any Fear Factory album, but on this one I have to say that he sounds on fire. This has to be one of the best and most wide-ranging performances he has given.
Whatever the future brings for the next iteration of Fear Factory, I cannot wait to find out. Until then, we have Aggression Continuum, and it’s a cybernetic monster.
Essential listening for any metal fan.