"One thing I could say about Fear Factory is that you can put on a Fear Factory song and know it's Fear Factory. Nowadays, so many bands are copying each other but we've always remained true to our sound." - Dino Cazares
On their third album, Obsolete, Fear Factory continue to explore the battle of man versus machine; organic versus digital. Frontman/lyricist Burton C. Bell explains: "The concept of this record is that man is obsolete.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 We're up to the point in the story where man is obsolete.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."
Obsolete is ten songs produced by Rhys Fulber, formerly of Front Line Assembly, currently of Delerium, Intermix, and Will. Rhys, who produced the band's 1992 remix EP Fear Is The Mind Killer, also played keyboards on Obsolete (John Bechdel of Prong/Killing Joke/Revolting Cocks/Murder Inc. pedigree will serve as the touring keyboardist). Check out the intense cover art provided by longtime Fear Factory associate Dave McKean.
For 1998, Fear Factory's development as a band is most evident. Guitarist Dino Cazares has never sounded better; his riffs mean and lean. Belgian-born bassist Christian Olde Wolbers is far more predominant in the mixes than in the past, while drummer Raymond Herrera has developed into a phenomenal player, a literal man-machine.
Bell's development and confidence as a singer-boosted by his participation in Geezer Butler's G/Z/R project-is obvious on Obsolete, particularly in his searing vocal performance with the eleven-piece Vancouver Chamber Ensemble, which contributed violins, cellos and violas to the songs "Resurrection" and "Timelessness." Fear Factory's state-of-the-art mindfuck is also evident on the song "Edge Crusher," with cuts and scratches courtesy of San Diego mixmaster DJ Zodak. Obsolete material is also featured in the video game "Messiah" by Shiny Entertainment, which is slated for an October release.
Dino offers the following assessment of Fear Factory: "Fear Factory decided to stick to what we do best and that's play very aggressive music--and then add keyboard and vocal elements. We're dabbling in Hip Hop--Burt's actually rhyming on the record. The beautiful melodies that Burt sings are more apparent on this record and the brutality is definitely more apparent. There's more keyboards on this album than any album we've ever done, but it's definitely not a Techno record. It's along the lines of what we're good at, and that's being heavy and experimental. If we're going to change, we're going to change to something more extreme. We never take a step backwards."
"I have a feeling people are expecting a Techno record and that's where they're wrong," Burt concludes. "We made the mistake of making the Remanunfacture EP album-length; people thought it was a full record. Obsolete has the groove Soul Of A New Machine had, that we lost on Demanufacture. We've not changed, but matured. The songs are written properly and the arrangements are much better. We've found our niche on this record. We've brought it back into Fear Factory so it's ripping riffs and killer grooves. Our fans know to expect something big."