Ever since their 1992 debut, Soul of a New Machine, Fear Factory have pushed the envelope in their balance of clean and scream, their industrialized lyrical themes and in particular the rapid-fire, hyper-precise picking of guitarist Dino Cazares.
For album number nine, Genexus, which hits stores August 7, the band has found a new lyrical spin on the theme that informs so much of its writing.
“It is a full concept album like the last one and a couple of ones before that,” Cazares says from backstage at Australia’s Soundwave Festival. “It’s a continuation of man-versus-machine, but it’s more machine-versus-man, a reverse role. It gives you a different perspective of what the machine feels like and thinks like than how man feels!”
As for the musical direction, Cazares promises “a lot of riffs! The faster tracks are definitely reminiscent of Demanufacture, and we have a lot of groovy tracks as well that are probably more along the lines of Obsolete. That’s the best comparison I can give. There are some different elements in there that we’ve never done before, or a different approach on some things, but overall, when you hear the first riff you’ll go, ‘Okay, that’s Fear Factory!’ I think this is a record that people want to hear.”
Live drummer Mike Heller laid down the tracks for the record (as opposed to 2012’s The Industrialist which used programmed drums), and Cazares played bass on all tracks using a custom-made Ibanez five-string.
This time around Fear Factory has turned to Andy Sneap, who has worked with Arch Enemy, Opeth, Bullet For My Valentine, Megadeth and others, to mix the record. Cazares met Sneap when they collaborated on tracks for the Roadrunner United project, but haven’t worked together on Fear Factory material until now.
“We’re excited,” Cazares says of the union. “We think he’s going to bring the best out of what we’ve done because he’s really known for having great productions and his mixes are great, so we wanted to give him a shot. We wanted to break out of the norm of what we always do and try someone who’s very different, and we have confidence that it’s going to be amazing.”
The guitar rig for the album is stripped down and simple; Cazares’ Ibanez DCM100 signature model seven-string guitar with his signature Seymour Duncan Retribution active humbucker, and a combination of amps and Kemper Profilers.
“I’ve cloned a few amps on the Kemper. A guy named Mike Fortin made me a couple of amps that are really good. He modified one of my old Marshall JCM800s with extra gain, extra boost and an extra preamp tube and it’s really hot. It sounds amazing, and I was able to clone that with the Kemper. Then he made me this killer Randall head, because he works for Randall, and it’s totally modified for me the way I like it. And I cloned that too.
"As a guitar player you’re always looking for something new in your search for tone. So one of the cool things about the Kemper is I can rent a head for a few hours, clone it and return it! And it makes things a lot easier, especially for traveling musicians like us. Our whole touring rig for guitars and bass is in a four-space rack!”
Photo: Jimmy Hubbard