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[Off The Record]
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Fear Factory
DIGIMORTAL
(Roadrunner)

Itís about time new metal reverted to hoky sci-fi concept-album territory, and itís hard to imagine a band better qualified for the task than this decade-old SoCal post-thrash combo. On Fear Factoryís fourth full-length, frontman Burton C. Bell sings the man-versus-machine blues with savage glee ó like a cross between Thom Yorke and the T-1000. His bandmates groove like Pantera on a new-wave kick, ranging from hyperkinetic power-drill rhythms to spectral pop choruses in the space of a single song.

Bell is more punk-rocker than actual singer, but the spooky melodicism he brings to the title track and " Linchpin " gives the disc its two strongest hooks. And the groupís ongoing collaboration with producer Rhys Fulber (Front Line Assembly, Delerium) is one of the most fruitful cross-genre unions in metal: Fulberís subtle keyboard accents and icy production style only add to the brutality of the bandís rigid beats. Digimortal does make a few concessions to the status quo, including a thuggish duet between Bell and Cypress Hillís B-Real that strays a little too far from the concept. But in most respects, Fear Factory are miles ahead of the pack: well versed in metalís past and eager to define its future.

BY SEAN RICHARDSON

Issue Date: April 19 - 26, 2001





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