Following the release of 2001’s experimental “Digimortal,” Fear Factory briefly disbanded. Three years later, Fear Factory reunited, without original guitarist Dino, switched bassist Christian to guitar and hired Byron to take care of the bass duties. Then they started work on “Archetype,” a hard-hitting record and a great listen. It is a return to form of sorts for Fear Factory, and many fans believe it to be the band at the top of their game. It’s definitely their heaviest album in years, but the signature Fear Factory melody remains in tact, as well (although that melody doesn’t come in until track four).
The drummer (Raymond Herrera) and guitarist both play very well, tight, and inspired. Christian does a good job filling in for Dino, but Raymond is the real highlight here. He drives every songs’ tempos, and he goes absolutely crazy back there on the drums. Every song is full of “boom-boom” beats, chugging beats, lightning fast double bass punches, and/or all over the place machine gun drumming.
“Slave Labor” grinds and chugs like a paint can mixer and it never lets up.
“Cyberwaste” is definitely a personal favorite. It grooves before exploding into a mosh worthy chorus, and there are heavy breakdowns throuhgout. Raymond drives the blindingly fast beat with a death metal blast and Christian lays down some blindingly fast, smoking guitar riffs. This is Fear Factory in their angriest mood, and I guarantee you’ll want to jump around with this one.
“Archetype” has lyrics which may be a shot at ex-guitarist Dino (“The infection has been removed/the soul of this machine has improved”.) It has a “boom-boom” beat, but it is also the first song to have melodic singing. A good, heavy breakdown, too.
“Bite the Hand that Bleeds” has melodic verses and big, hard choruses (with more melodic singing).
“Human Shields” has haunting and spacey riffs at the beginning and in the verses. The choruses are still hard (though not as hard as “Cyberwaste”), but singer Burton Bell doesn’t yell. Only singing on this one.
“School” is an interesting, metallic version of Nirvana’s original. It has heavy breakdowns, great work by the drummer and guitarist, and the vocals alternate from yelling to singing.
It’s a great listen, and I would’ve given it five stars, but ultimately, it’s a little too familiar sounding. The album, as a whole, sounds like Fear Factory circa 7-10 years ago. The melodic moments are from “Obsolete” and the heaviness (and double bass drumming) echoes “Demanufacture.”
As evidenced by albums like “Obsolete” and “Digimortal,” Fear Factory HAVE evolved. But with this album, instead of evolving a step further, Fear Factory simply conquer already conquered land. “Archetype” may simply be a return to form for the band, therefore making it a step in the right direction after an experimental and somewhat disappointing album like “Digimortal.” Hopefully the next album rocks just as hard and is as equally as melodic as this album (because that is what Fear Factory do best), but hopefully the next album will also be something more new (sound like a completely new album, instead of just two previous albums mixed together.)
If you are a hardcore FF fan and own all of their albums, you’ll need to get “Archetype”, as well. If you’re a casual fan, you probably already own “Obsolete,” so I reccomend you try other albums out before this one. However, if you own and absolutely love “Obsolete” and/or “Demanufacture,” and can’t get enough of that sound, you’ll like this album just as well. Finally, if you’re completely new to Fear Factory, I suppose “Archetype” would be a good place to start; but “Obsolete” would suffice just as well.