Members: Burton C. Bell, Christian Olde Wolbers, Raymond Herrera, Byron Stroud
Active: 1990-2002, 2004-present
Fear Factory was formed under the name Ulceration in 1989 in Los Angeles, California by ex-guitarist Dino Cazares and drummer Raymond Herrera. "Ulceration" wasn't picked for any real reason other than that Burton C. Bell and/or other members thought it would "just be a cool name" for the band. They then renamed to Fear Factory in 1990. Characterised by a mix of thrash metal (though they sound more in the vein of groove metal) guitar riffs, roaring vocals that make way for melodic singing, pulse driven drum beats, and powerful basslines, Fear Factory have been making waves in both the American death metal and industrial metal scenes since their debut album, Soul of a New Machine (1992). The album was not successful in the mainstream. Undeterred, the band embarked on extensive touring across the U.S with Biohazard and Sick Of It All and over Europe with Brutal Truth. It is important to note that only "Soul of a New Machine" can accurately be classified as death metal, subsequent albums saw lead singer Burton C. Bell change his style, as well as a marked improvement in the band's production in general.
The following year, they hired Front Line Assembly member Rhys Fulber to remix some songs to create Fear Is the Mindkiller (1993). In 1994, bassist Andrew Shives was forced to leave the band. In the same year, bassist Christian Olde Wolbers met the band whilst vacationing in LA and agreed to assist them with their next recording, Demanufacture (1995), which went on to become a highly successful album.
Fear Factory spent the next few years touring with such bands as Black Sabbath, Megadeth and Iron Maiden. They also appeared at Ozzfests '96 and '97, amongst other festivals. The band released a new album composed of Demanufacture remixes by artists such as DJ Dano or Junkie XL (now known as JXL) called Remanufacture in May 1997, closely followed in July 1998 by their new album, Obsolete, cancelling an appearance at the Dynamo Open Air Festival to finish the album sooner. Wasting no time, they hit the road with Slayer and then began another tour with Rammstein. They then headlined the second stage at Ozzfest '99 as last-minute replacements for Judas Priest.
Proponents of the concept album, Fear Factory have explored the idea of "Man versus Machine" throughout their work. Concerning their album, Obsolete, lead singer Burton C. Bell explained:
"The concept of this record is that man is obsolete. The idea is still man versus machine - man versus the system machine... man versus the government machine. Demanufacture told a story, Remanufacture was another chapter in the story and Obsolete is another part of the Fear Factory concept. We're up to the point in the story where man is obsolete. Man has created these machines to make his life easier but in the long run it made him obsolete. The machines he created are now destroying him. Man is not the primary citizen on Earth."
The band started to build success on the album charts. Soul of a New Machine failed to chart anywhere. Demanufacture made the top 10 of the Billboard Heatseekers charts and Remanufacture made the Billboard 200 album charts as well as the Heatseekers Chart in 1997. Obsolete reached the top 100 on the Billboard charts and spawned a couple of songs that made the Mainstream Rock Top 40 in 1999 in "Cars" and "Descent". In 2001, Digimortal made the top 40 on the Billboard album charts, the top 20 in Canada and the top 50 of the Australian album charts. "Linchpin" off the album again reached the Mainstream Rock Top 40.
Following some personal differences between band members, Bell announced his exit in March 2002, and the band disbanded immediately thereafter. However, the band reformed later that year minus guitarist Dino Cazares. Bassist Christian Olde Wolbers took over guitar duties and they hired Byron Stroud on bass, currently bassist of the bands Strapping Young Lad and Zimmer's Hole. The new lineup's first album Archetype was released in spring 2004 through new record label Liquid 8 Records based in Minnesota. Their second, Transgression, was released on the 22nd August 2005 in the United Kingdom, and on the following day in North America.
Although "industrial metal" is usually applied, the true "metal" genre of the South-Central LA based band has been subject to moderate discussion.
Their first demos were strongly reminiscent of legendary British death metallers Napalm Death, along with Godflesh, who were not only tourmates but influences brought up by the band as well. Ironically, some of Justin Broadrick's vocals are comparable to those of Burton C. Bell after he discontinued the death grunt and when he still used it, his vocals were comparable to Napalm Death's vocalist Mark "Barney" Greenway. His vocal style was considered ground-breaking on Soul of a New Machine because no one before had ever mixed death grunts with melodic singing and this influenced many other metal vocalists, such as Robb Flynn of Machine Head.
Fear Factory's sound changes a lot. Soul of a New Machine was a Industrial Death Metal album. Demanufacture saw a little change, it sounded the same without any death grunts. Demanufacture was industrial groove metal. Fear Factory would later have a little bit of a Nu Metal sound on later records, although Fear Factory isn't nu metal even though they don't have any solos. Until the reunion they would stop using the nu metal sound.
In many ways, there was also a very limited industrial essence that made Fear Factory an industrial metal band. While Ministry were known for making industrial textures just as important as guitar riffs, Fear Factory were more conservatively heavy metal with some trance-like samples edited in to cyber-fast production.
Regardless, the band has often been called a "stepping stone" leading mainstream listeners to venture into less-known/more-extreme bands, and one of few heavy metal bands consistently appreciated in the most polarizing and bitter music genre.
1991 - Concrete (RECORDED IN 1991, released on Compact disc in 2002)
1992 - Soul of a New Machine (REMASTERED IN 2004)
1995 - Demanufacture ( REISSUED IN 2005)
1998 - Obsolete
2001 - Digimortal
2004 - Archetype
2005 - Transgression
1993 - Fear Is the Mindkiller (EP) REMASTERED IN 2004
1997 - The Gabber Mixes (VINYL RECORD)
1997 - Remanufacture - Cloning Technology (REISSUE IN 2005)
2003 - Hatefiles
1995 - Replica
1996 - Dog Day Sunrise ( Head of David cover)
1997 - Burn
1997 - Machines of Hate
1997 - Remanufacture
1998 - Resurrection
1998 - Shock
1999 - Edgecrusher
1999 - Descent Cars (Gary Numan cover)
2001 - Linchpin
2002 - Digimortal
2004 - Cyberwaste
2004 - Archetype
2004 - Bite the Hand That Bleeds: and related archetypal imagery
2005 - Supernova