Fear Factory Remember When They Had to Fight to Be Heard
Considering many modern metal fans came of age with Korn‘s 1996 album ‘Life is Peachy,’ it’s not surprising that some are unfamiliar with the significant contributions made in the mid ’90s by pioneering industrial metal band Fear Factory.
Not only don’t they know about the band’s innovative combination of crushing death metal riffs with futuristic industrial samples, they’re unaware that vocalist Burton C. Bell was laying the foundation of metalcore by blending harsh, abrasive verses with clean, tuneful choruses as early as the band’s second record, 1995’s ‘Demanufacture.’
“I’ve heard a lot of people comment that Burt ripped off the Howard Jones style,” Fear Factory guitarist and songwriter Dino Cazares told Noisecreep. “They’re like, ‘Oh, dude, he’s singing melodic and then singing heavy just like Howard.’ And I’m like, ‘Uh, well, he was doing that way before Howard.’ Of course, Howard has his own singing style, but the formula from where it was lifted was from us and Burt.”
Bell, who considers U2 and Nick Cave as inspirational as Ministry and Slayer, started out as a pretty standard death growler on Fear Factory’s 1994 debut ‘Soul of a New Machine.’ But by the time ‘Demanufacture’ was released, he was forging his own path.
“I was drawing from my influences to create that sound and in the process I created my own style,” Bell said. “I have been told a few times that the whole metalcore vocal thing is all my fault. But people are inspired by what they like and they draw from their influences, so if I’m cited as an influence for these new bands, that’s fine. I think it’s flattering.”
As conventional and unsurprising as it is to hear metalcore vocals these days, in the ’80s people didn’t know what to make of the style. Death metal fans confused by the sudden bursts of melody, and commercial metal listeners were driven off by the speedy discordant rhythms.
“It definitely took people aback at first,” Bell said. “In the beginning, we had to fight to be heard. We started out playing backyard gigs and downtown warehouse parties with all these local death metal bands who thought we sucked. And then we finally got this Hollywood show at the Coconut Teaser, and people were like, ‘What?!?!’ They had no idea what to make of us. It would take another few years for what we were doing to really catch on.”