Fear Factory have never fit in, and that's a good thing. Their early industrial-metal albums were way too heavy to win over the entire Nine Inch Nails contingent, but too mechanized and melodic to hang with the Morbid Angel crowd. Even as their sound moved closer toward nu-metal later in the Nineties, their robot-warfare subject matter and technically audacious sounds were a bit too out-there for the neighborhood Limp Bizkit fanatic.
Therefore, Fear Factory have been able to carve out their own lane in metal's timeline, shifting in between scenes and sounds but always doing their own thing. Even after decades of lineup turmoil, including the recent departure of OG singer Burton C. Bell, making founding guitarist Dino Cazares the only original member, Fear Factory are still going strong — 10 albums deep with no signs of slowing down.
We asked our readers to pick what they consider the single greatest Fear Factory song, and after oodles of votes scattered all across their sprawling catalog, the top five mentions are ranked accordingly below.
"Linchpin" was the lead single on Fear Factory's 2001 album Digimortal, which followed the band's move on Obsolete toward a more nu-metally sound. One of the catchiest Fear Factory songs to this point, "Linchpin" was a slight left turn that fans could get down with. Bell's clean singing during the hook dominates the song, but the band's signature, stabby groove remained heavy as ever.
For as ear-wormy and singable as "Replica" is, it's truly one of the most overtly dark tracks of its kind. The Demanufacture single has lyrics that openly confront the idea of conception without consent, and how that act of violence — either to a mythical android or a flesh-and-blood human — can transforms into hatred in the mind of the offspring. The repeated chorus, "I am rape/I am hate," is shocking even for a callous metalhead to hear, but clearly, this track still resonates with Fear Factory's audiences nearly 30 years onward.
"Edgecrusher" is arguably the best distillation of Fear Factory's nu-metal era. The second track on their 1998 LP, Obsolete, has significantly more bounce and rappity-rap vocal cadences than anything that came before it, channeling the brutal groove of Sepultura's 1996 nu-metal pivot, Roots. It's a total behemoth of a song, with gigantic riffs and pulverizing drums that, along with the rip-em-up DJ scratches, predate Slipknot's self-titled debut by just a year, but feels like a natural companion in hindsight.
"Descent" sounds like Fear Factory crossed Deftones with early Korn. The crunchy bass that nearly clips during the verses hits like something Fieldy would pluck on Life Is Peachy, and the spacey effect on Bell's singing during the hook has the ethereal swoosh of a Chino Moreno chorus on Around the Fur. More searching and reflective than it is punishing and rigid, "Descent" is a great showcase of Fear Factory's range, and one of Obsolete's obvious highlights.
1. "Self Bias Resistor"
There're so many songs that could've ended up here. "Shock," "Invisible Wounds," "Regenerate," the goddamn "Cars" cover — but our readers picked "Self Bias Resistor." The second track on Demanufacture features Cazares' smashing-through-a-brick-wall guitar jousts and a rhythm section that fires with semi-automatic force and precision. Like so many of the best Fear Factory songs, it sounds like the musical score to a post-apocalyptic cyborg battle, so it's no wonder that fans in our mentions herald it as their single greatest achievement.