Fear Factory: Resurrection

I picked up this this like-new CD up from one of Heartland Records’ second-hand heavy metal bins. The release is Fear Factory: Resurrection, a three-track EP from 1998 which takes its lead track from Obsolete, the third full-length album in the Fear Factory discography.
This brought me back to my younger days. Like so many metal heads in the mid to late ’90s, I too was captivated Fear Factory’s Demanufacture album. If you were there, you’ll recall how this band which came from nowhere wowed everyone with their futuristic sound, smashing industrial edge, total lack of guitar solos, furious but clinically technical drumming and — I suspect to many the unmistakeable quality that helped get on everyone’s radar — the trademark dual rough-clean vocal delivery.
So when the follow-up Obsolete came out three years later it struck me as being not quite so out there as its predecessor. Whereas on Demanufacture the dual-vocals I just mentioned were an integral but nonetheless balanced element (which as I said, everyone just loved), on Obsolete Fear Factory I felt went overboard with the catchy vocal melodies. So much so that I felt there were noticeable moments where it seemed this band was sticking to the formula rather than crushing boundaries. Admittedly, it was a formula that Obsolete did well, but with so much expectation heaped onto this band’s third release, it just didn’t strike me as being one of the best Fear Factory albums ever.
Resurrection is not a bad song. It’s a superbly produced and almost entirely clean-sung metal ballad for lack of a better word that somehow combines melancholia with that unmistakable noisy Fear Factory instrument sound. There’s even a bit of what sounds like a string section towards the end, and the band’s vocalist, Burton C. Bell, rated it as one of the best Fear Factory songs.

Not the best Fear Factory track ever in my view. But Burton loves it.
However, it’s not quite my cup of tea. A real cynic might even suggest that this was Fear Factory’s attempt to cash in on a commercial hit (which they totally did with their cover of Gary Numan’s Cars not much later; again, it's not a bad track but it was nonetheless a recording released with the sole intention of cracking into the commercial charts).
Of far greater interest (to me personally anyway) on Resurrection is track two, a b-side called 0-0 (Where Evil Dwells). A jarring contrast to the smooth melody of the title track, it’s a cover that was originally done by an obscure ’80s industrial music collaboration by the name of Wiseblood.
It’s worth noting that Fear Factory vocalist Burton C. Bell never made a secret of his music influences. I recall once when I was a teenager how I was too young to see the band play live during a national Fear Factory tour, but I was nonetheless happy to hear Bell make an appearance on Triple JJJ’s national Three Hours Of Power metal radio show. The show host, Costa Zouliou, invited him to play some of his favourite and most influential tunes, so after the usual interview stuff was done Burton promptly played some very un-metal tracks, including the folky ballad-like Bonnie And Clyde by French musician Serge Gainsbourg.
In this case of the Resurrection EP I’m not entirely sure what the connection is with the
Wiseblood track, but I’d like to think it’s safe to say that there’s a real influence behind it. Wiseblood was an obscure collaboration between J. G. Thirlwell (misspelt “Thirwell” in the liner notes) — a native of my home-town Melbourne and real industrial music and noise sicko behind Foetus — and Roli Mosimann from Swans, a band which for some reason I’ve never gotten into.
The song 0-0 (Where Evil Dwells) is from the Wiseblood: Dirtdish album, released in 1987. The subject matter deals with a gruesome and highly sensationalised 1984 murder committed by Richard Kasso, aka ‘The Acid Killer’. The track is a superb example of in-your-face music — the way they used to make it, when industrial was a genuinely underground and taboo phenomenon. And this track has it all too: pounding percussion blasts, angst-ridden synths laced with tension, and Thirlwell’s obscene drawl recounting the shocking facts of a ritualised murder. That, and it was released in 1987.
It all translates uncannily well and sits comfortably among so many other Fear Factory songs. Especially the rapid-fire percussion parts, which are such a trademark element of the band’s sound. But is it influence or coincidence? As I said, I don’t know the full story. I'd like to imagine that the decision maker who urged the band to release the ever so radio-friendly Cars was a different beast to whoever said go right ahead with covering an obscure industrial act from the '80s that released a hellishly dark track about ritualised murder and mutilation.
I'd also like to think that two music dissidents who made a record in the ’80s had something to do with how Fear Factory sound like today. And even if that turns out not to be true, at least it’s still an excellent tune. 0-0 (Where Evil Dwells) is definitely my favourite track from Resurrection, more so than the catchy, melodic, radio-friendly, tuneful lead track.

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