Since they began releasing albums in 1989, Fear Factory has been shredding its way through some truly outstanding songs. Though they have evolved through various styles of heavy metal music, the sound has always been metal at its core. With ten albums and countless singles to choose from, selecting the top ten best Fear Factory songs of all time wasn’t easy, but we’ve narrowed it down to the hits that make you want to bang your head and hit the mosh pit.
Edgecrusher is more than a song title. The entire Obsolete album has some intriguing backstory, but before you listen, it’s important to know that it is based on a dystopian future. According to an interview Burton Bell did with Revolver, The Edgecrusher is a fictional man who is fighting the powers that be in a world where robots have supplanted humanity. He mentions that reading the outstanding sci-fi works of Aldous Huxley and Phillip K. Dick inspired some of this album and song.
This song from Fear Factory’s 1992 debut album Soul of a New Machine is one of those hard and heavy metal staples that is easy to include in any list. The subject, loss of faith, is a standard fare for metal music, but the band’s treatment of the songs immediately got them noticed. Refusing to be pigeonholed in any single heavy metal subgenre, these innovative musicians combined the so-called ‘death growl’ style of singing with regular vocals in one of the first recorded albums to feature this technique.
Like Scumgrief, this song came from Fear Factory’s 1992 debut album Soul of a New Machine, but Martyr was the opening track. Where Scumgrief has distinct references to crucifixion, martyr is more about the entirely human struggle. Additionally, guitarist Dino Cazares told Songfacts that this track is about someone who dies for a cause they believe in. The title makes that apparent, but the simplicity of the lyrics combined with the complexity of this band’s sound elevates the song.
A lot of today’s music lovers don’t remember the L.A. riots. Although the world today is in a similar place when this song from the same-titled album came out, the rioting in L.A. was a present issue, and there wasn’t really anything else like it in American news. It was shocking. Demanufacture is about trying to make it daily and even sympathizing with someone who could lose it and shoot people at random. Although the idea is horrifying and something most people would never actually do when you’re in a rough place, it’s easier to see how someone else could flip like that.
You might recognize this song if you’re a fan of pro wrestling. Jerry Lyn used the song as his intro music. Beyond that, Scapegoat is all about an experience Dino Cazares had during a riot. Regrettably, he was arrested under suspicion of being a gang member, which he was not. Naturally, the song is all about being blamed for something you didn’t do.
5. Self Bias Resistor
Another fantastic dystopian world song, Self Bias Resistor, is about the need to rise up and fight. This is from the album Demanufacture, which was originally intended to have more drums and a different sound. The band recorded the drums but later discovered that a producer they’d worked with erased tracks. All of this happened during the same hot and heavy summer of the riots when they were still struggling just to make it through each day.
Fans of the Test Drive video games might know the video from Replica as an unlockable in Test Drive 5. The entire album Demanufacture features multiple songs that were used in movies like Mortal Combat. Additionally, the album was lauded as the band’s best record.
Shock is another song about The Edgecrusher. This character is more than just the hero of the album, but also a political prisoner. The Edgecrusher is a crusader seeking to tear down his totalitarian dystopia. Shock is about the inner working of his mind and the rage he feels. Metal is a superb conduit for expressing dark emotions like anger and fury, and the Edgecrusher story is excellent as a narrative, but it would never work with a ‘softer’ style.
Written by Gary Numan, this cover of a U2 song is a divergence from the band’s usual sound, but they enjoyed making it. The video has a futuristic sci-fi inspiration with the band floating in space. Additionally, Cars was the most added song for active rock and mainstream rock in May 1999, earning “Breaker” status. As cover songs go, this is a truly outstanding reinterpretation with the blessing of the original.
1. Freedom or Fire
Choosing what is worth fighting for can be difficult, but freedom is always worth the battle. Freedom or Fire is all about choosing ‘liberty or death.’ The willingness to sacrifice the self in order to remain free is a pretty “metal” sentiment. We gave this song the top slot because the entire composition is outstanding. From drums to guitar and vocals, it is simply a superb song.
It’s hard to be cooler as a genre-defying, innovative, decade-spanning extreme metal band. With the latest album, Aggression Continuum, Fear Factory is following in a long line of stars who make a difference by donating a percentage of the sales for some special signed copies to the music charity @KRCancer. Despite the break with Burton C. Bell last year, this is one band that is bringing the sound as hard as ever and upping their game by giving back.