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Thursday, 20 September 2012

Reviews: Fear Factory, Rival Sons, Stealing Axion

Fear Factory: The Industrialist (AFM)

Fear Factory have returned with yet another brutal slice of cyber metal, and the keyword is brutal, this futuristic concept album is hard, heavy and extremely violent. Things kick off with the machinegun pace of the title track which sees the robotic riffage of Dino Cazares brings waves of guitars spiralling out of control; this is matched by the vocal aggression of Burton C Bell who brings his dry howl and his hollow croon to all of the tracks. It's these two men that are the sound of Fear Factory and because of this they are the only two that appear on the album. All of the instrumentation handled by Cazares (the drums are programmed) and Bell has all of the vocals, whether multi-tracked or not. However it maybe because there is almost no outside interference (despite the keys and programming being handled by producer Rhys Fulber) that this is the purest sounding Fear Factory album in recent memory. Tracks like the title trackthe very electronic God Eater and the propulsive New Messiah (which is an anthem in a similar vein to Lynchpin) show that Fear Factory are back on the top of their game bulldozing all those that step in the way with their inhuman metallic rampage. 8/10

Rival Sons: Head Down (Earache)

LA retro-rockers Rival Sons have become one of the saviours of blues-based proper rock 'n' roll this is their third album and second on a major label. The band expand their sound on this album while still keeping their classic Jim Morrison fronting Zeppelin sound. Breaking out with first single Keep On Swinging which is radio friendly riffage and is followed by the fuzzed up Wild Animal this is the start of a trend on an album that weaves between fizzy blues-rockers like You Want To (which has a jazz middle section), funked up soul rumpshakers All The Way and tender acoustic ballads like closer True. This is not a record of individual tracks this is a listening experience with every track having resonance in the confines of the record. Scott Holiday plays his heart out wringing all the emotion he can out of his guitar, while Robin Everhart and Michael Miley anchor with funk-fuelled bass and crashing drums respectively. The whole thing is brought together by Jay Buchanan's varied vocal range equally adept at soulful crooning and whiskey soaked wailing. This is a fantastic album which has some truly great tracks on it with the Zeppelin-like three-piece of Nava and Manifest Destiny Part 1 &2 which brings the album to a fantastic close. This is a groovy, funked up rock album that brings together the sound of the late sixties and early seventies but it is also a thoroughly modern rock album. 9/10

Stealing Axion: Moments (InsideOut Music)

So another Djent band arrives and yet again they are a mixture of polyrhythmic technical playing, harsh vocals and some very technical chops. So what I hear you ask sets Stealing Axion apart from bands such as Periphery, Textures, Monuments and the other 100 or so bands in this genre. Well the answer to that is melody, the band have a keen ear for melody and instrumental texture meaning that it is not the explosion of noise that other bands bring. There is a lot of Devin Townsend on this album with 47 Days Later and opener Mirage Of Hope being the two most significant examples, there are also elements of Meshuggah and rightly so. The band have a triple guitar and vocal attack with the three core members supplying off-kilter riffage and harmonic solos as well as providing the screams, grunts and clean passages over the intensely technical music that shifts in tone so much that it never really gets stale. The fantastic Evertide is one of the albums set pieces and is at the core of Stealing Axion’s sound. The production of Tesseract's Acle Kahney is crisp, clean and means that Stealing Axion have a very similar sound to the British band albeit with more of a varied sound. This is a progressive metal album that straddles the Djent genre and in my book that is better than the other way round. 8/10 

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