On June 13, Fear Factory's iconic sophomore album Demanufacture turned 25 years old, and we couldn't just let an anniversary like that just float by without giving it some special attention, so it's time to pay tribute to one of heavy music's most revered and influential records!
There's no other way to put it - Fear Factory's second album was a brutal, cold and mechanical journey that had never been heard in metal music before. Sure, there were other bands incorporating industrial elements at the time like Ministry and Godflesh, but Fear Factory took influence from different genres to create their own definitive sound. The result found on Demanufacture was both something much heavier and way ahead of its time.
Released on June 13, 1995 through Roadrunner Records, it was the first to feature what would be coined as the "classic" core Fear Factory lineup with Burton C. Bell on vocals, Dino Cazares on guitar, Christian Olde Wolbers on bass and Raymond Herrera behind the kit.
Every individual aspect of Demanufacture perfectly encapsulated the cold, dystopian atmosphere it was trying to present; from the production, which managed to be both massive and raw at the same time, the android-like performances from each member and the album's concept of a man trying to get by in a world controlled by a machine-controlled government (inspired by The Terminator film).
What really tied it all together though was the sheer variety of music on offer. There were plenty of amazing riffs to bang your head to (the album's opener might be one of the heaviest of all time), but there was also a lot of textural work underlying it all with synths, samples and loops courtesy of Rhys Fulber to add a huge amount of depth to the sound.
For 1995, this was something unprecedented in metal music. Sure, there were some industrial bands like Nine Inch Nails quickly gaining popularity at around the same time (they'd just released 'The Downward Spiral' a year before), but even then, none of it really sounded like Demanufacture.
Burton also cemented himself as one of the best and most diverse vocalists in metal, belting out a range of crushing metal growls, melodic howls and subdued clean singing, none of which ever sounded out of place once.
In a new interview with Kerrang!, Burton went into some of the backstory behind the album's production, revealing how the 1992 Los Angeles riots ended up having a huge impact on how the record came to be:
“We were driving through there [LA] just as people were gathering to start protesting, and we were like, ‘This is gonna get ugly, we’ve got to get the fuck out of here!’ And it did get ugly! It affected us mentally and physically. I mean, we lost the place we were living in and officially became homeless and lived on couches until we were done recording Demanufacture in ‘94.”
“Dino and I used to live together back then, and he memorised all of Cowboys From Hell, because he wanted to pick like Dimebag. And here’s a fun fact… the riff for New Breed is the riff for a Stone Temple Pilots song played backwards, Vaseline, I think.”
Of course, Fear Factory would go on to release a number of other excellent albums which would expand on the concept presented here, but Demanufacture is still regarded by many fans as their definitive collection of works. Like Ministry were to Fear Factory, so have Fear Factory been to countless metal bands throughout the 90's and
And for what it's worth, it definitely still holds up 25 years later. Go and hear for yourself!