Archetype (Liquid 8)

Fear Factory 

Archetype (Liquid 8)

Lineup changes are a bitch. Just ask Fear Factory, the Los Angeles quartet that helped pioneer the now moldy concept of mixing industrial with full-throttle metal. But after a string of relatively successful releases, the Factory splintered a few years ago, and all its members have since spiraled into side-project purgatory. Last year, the outfit reformed (minus longtime guitarist and all-around pain-in-the-ass Dino Cazares). Former bassist Christian Wolbers now handles six-string chores, and the resulting sonics are less interesting than the group's previous output. But Archetype's biggest problem is vocalist Burton Bell, who ranges between strep-throat gutter growls and warbling, Dokken-ready crooning without convincingly committing to either style. When he's not untethering his inner Cookie Monster, Bell drenches songs such as "Drones" and "Corporate Cloning" in layers of glossy vocal harmonies and lighter-lofting moments that undercut his band's ferocious attack. It's tempting to assume that Bell's softer side stems from the fact that Fear Factory resides on a label that's home to Smokey Robinson and Daryl Hall's smooth jazz project, but vocal indecision has always been one of Fear Factory's calling cards. The strategy can work, but right now Bell and company sound like they can't decide if they want to be Cannibal Corpse or Queensryche.

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