dB HoF No. 125
Release date: June 16, 1995
Even the title of the album suggests an act of grand defiance. Demanufacture. Breaking everything down to the component level, stripping away the inessential elements, salvaging the best parts for recycling and reuse. Before Fear Factory’s 1995 masterwork, “industrial metal” was Godflesh, Ministry and a bunch of industrial bands with heavy riffs—with everything firmly rooted in the industrial spectrum. Demanufacture brought the metal to industrial metal: bone-shaking heaviness coupled with artful samples, melodic phrases and an incredibly cerebral approach that remains, far and away, one of the most unique sounds to rise up from the underground in the 1990s.
Fear Factory telegraphed some of their intentions on earlier releases. 1992’s Soul of a New Machine—which was packaged and promoted as a “death metal” album—nonetheless featured clean vocals and samples. The band followed their well-regarded debut with 1993’s Fear Is the Mindkiller EP, a collection of industrial-style remixes by Rhys Fulber and Bill Leeb of Front Line Assembly. Naturally, death metal fans revolted. But musicians and record labels recognized the appeal of it immediately—acts like Anthrax, Sepultura, Megadeth and Morbid Angel all flirted with industrial elements or commissioned remixes to varying degrees of success.
Part of the genius of Demanufacture is that the band deliberately approached the album like a cinematic score, something that’s echoed in the sophisticated arrangements, samples and dramatic overtures (the title track and “A Therapy for Pain”) at both ends. Although Demanufacture is not a concept album per se, it hangs together lyrically, too. “Self Bias Resistor” and “Replica” both nod in the direction of The Terminator and Blade Runner, while “Pisschrist” offers astringent commentary on religious hypocrisy. The thematic arc of the album is the very Orwellian notion that governments, corporations and authority figures can exert control by shaping reality. Demanufacture doesn’t just reflect the tension and dread of living in an urban environment like Los Angeles after the Rodney King riots and the ’94 earthquake—it’s positively steeped in it.
Forget everything you think you know about Demanufacture. The album owes everything to the often imitated, never duplicated keystones of classic-era Fear Factory: Burton C. Bell’s melodic vocals, guitarist/bassist Dino Cazares punting on solos in favor of alternate picking, and drummer Raymond Herrera’s inhumanly fast double bass. Two decades after the album’s release, former Roadrunner Senior VP A&R Monte Conner still maintains that Fear Factory “birthed a metal classic for the ages, and cemented their position as true innovators.” With this in mind, we are proud to recognize Demanufacture as a shining beacon in the overflowing sea of garbage that was mainstream metal in the ’90s, and finally welcome Fear Factory to the Decibel Hall of Fame.
– Nick Green
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