To be sure, Industrial Metal is not my forte; so much so that a few years ago I left a show when the headliners FEAR FACTORY were only two songs into their set. That said, Sacramento, California’s FALLEN MAN temper their Industrial influences with far more straight forward Thrash and Metal leanings that most bands I would consider to be of the Industrial ilk. On “Reborn” the band bulk up the repetitiveness of the choruses with some nice slabs of chunky guitars and even some more organic, complex drumming. With few exceptions, what rarely changes is Mike Gardiner’s measured, stamped vocals; always sounding as if he is prowling like a robot in a wasteland for humanoids to enslave.
The vocals and with it the choruses is then what is ultimately the downfall of this genre of music for me: the almost never ceasing repetition, the constant stamping motion you feel from the music over and over and over again. There seems little room for the music to breathe, as if it was made from an actual Industrial machine-line at an auto-works plant. You get the sense someone took out a blue print and pointed to it and said, “yep, that’s the album right there, now go play it”. As I said though, now and then some nice little touches of Thrash and Metal creep in but having the album playing again while I write this review I realize they get lost in endless replication that occurs throughout all of the songs. It’s a shame really for me, as I can hear a band that would be a damn fine one would they choose to forego the constant replication within each song and instead let themselves expand each track and push the boundaries and include some more riffs.
Although I’m not the biggest fan of covers, I had hoped that perhaps their version of W.A.S.P.’s “L.O.V.E. Machine” may have been a reprieve and even a highpoint on the album. Unfortunately no! They murder the song, with Gardiner again forcing the vocals so hard it completely ruins the track altogether. Even the drumming which is to some degree quite machine-like on the original, sound even more exacted and robotic, but maybe I was just hearing that in my expectations of the band. A lot of Metal is repetitive for sure, there is absolutely no denying that; if you do your deluding yourself. I’m of the opinion though that the clearer the Metal the more that repetition hurts a band, as you get to precisely hear each note and word so cloudlessly that when the note or word returns it seems like you’ve heard it now far more times that had it been obscured with thick distortion, twin guitars or growled/screamed vocals; also the genres of Metal that incorporate these characteristics rarely reiterate passages enough for them to become almost inane. Though not a terrible album, “Reborn” suffers from this clarity and what is obvious from my repetition, its own repetition.
(Online April 6, 2008)