Local Wire

Fear Factory

You know how death-metal dudes like to growl in their songs — raspy and guttural, like they're passing broken earthenware through their belly buttons — and then alternate those sounds with clean, pitchy vocals? Raspy, soft, raspy, soft. Well, Fear Factory frontman Burton C. Bell was one of the first death-metal dudes to sing like that — though with a name like Burton C. Bell, he sounds more like the inventor of the transatlantic cable than the inventor of the "death growl." Entering their 20th year of existence (minus those few months in 2002 when they disbanded briefly to evict original guitarist Dino Cazares), the four-strong Ozzfest regulars have had all the ups and downs you might expect from a two-decade slog through the trenches. They hit a high point commercially in 1999 with their best-selling disc, Obsolete — a concept album about, you guessed it, mankind's enslavement by robotic overlords — but went five years between projects until their latest long-play, Mechanize, dropped last month. Maybe some of that old magic returned with Cazares, who rejoined the band after reconciling with Bell. Rumor has it, there was a lot of growling involved.
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Craig Outhier