Words Dave Mullins.

American heavy metal act Fear Factory have an incredible legacy in music. For over 25 years they have been pushing the boundaries of thrash, death and industrial metal in ways that have often wound up defining the genres themselves. Their latest album Genexus was released through Nuclear Blast on August 7. Desert Highways had a chance to talk to vocalist Burton C. Bell about the new album and the graphic novel tie-in to their previous album, The Industrialist.

Dave Mullins: The new album is incredible. It comes out of the gate with a lot of intensity. Was that the goal, to make it especially aggressive from the getgo?

Burton C. Bell: I think that’s one of our goals for every record, with a name like Fear Factory you can’t not have aggressive albums. We try and make it as intense as possible, either through guitars or vocals or through the melodies. It needs to be intense, and that’s how we roll. So yeah, that was the goal.

Dave: What sort of themes have you explored on this album? The man versus machine theme has been pretty prominent across your albums, was there something specific this time around?

Burton: The specific influence on this album was Ray Rurzweil’s theory the singularity, or where man and machine become one by the year 2045. That inspired it, the character Roy Batty from Blade Runner (1982) inspired it. The title Genexus inspired it.

Dave: Science and science fiction play a big part in your song writing process. Have there been any movies you’ve found particularly inspirational lately?

Burton: After we finished the record I saw the film Ex Machina (2015) which was pretty good.

Dave: On this record, apart from long-time producer Rhys Fulber, you’ve also brought in Drew Falk, what brought that about?

Burton: The label (Nuclear Blast) introduced him us to him. Sometimes when you get stuck, instead of trying to sit there and figure it out you bring in some outside help. So Drew came in and helped us out and we’re very thankful for his time.

Dave: And it’s a killer performance, did he teach you anything new, bring any extra insight to the table?

Burton: He didn’t teach me anything new, he just brought in some new ideas. You know, we were out of ideas on a couple of songs and he brought in some new ideas and we worked on those and it worked out.

Dave: So in September you’ve got your first graphic novel (a tie-in to their 2013 album The Industrialist), are you excited about that?

Burton: Absolutely, I’m very proud of it. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for many, many years and I had to do everything in-house, independently, and it’s all together on the website. It’s extremely limited numbers so it’s a really special item for fans. I’m very proud of it, and it’s only available on the website which is even better. (Available HERE.)

Dave: Will you ever make a graphic tie-in to another album, like say Obsolete or anything else?

Burton: Sure, I’d definitely consider doing it again.

Dave: What about making a movie? Every graphic novel has to be made into a movie, would you consider that?

Burton: We’ll see [laughs] we’ll see about that, it takes a lot of money. A lot of interest and a lot of money to do that, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do too.

Dave: You guys have been around for a long time now. As a vocalist, and as a band you have had a huge impact on heavy metal. How do you feel about your legacy looking back over your career and seeing the influence in younger bands?

Burton: I’m very proud of it. I’m very proud that our music and our lyrics and our style were able to inspire and influence younger minds to also create. Music is a positive force in this world and if you can influence a young mind to create art that’s a very positive aspect, so it’s something I’m very proud of.

Dave: Have there been any bands of late that, in return, have influenced the new album?

Burton: We went back to our old music and saw what was most popular with our fans was the best parts of Fear Factory. In the long run it’s about Fear Factory, we don’t want to sound like anyone else, we just want to enhance our sound.

Dave: On The Industrialist (2013) you went for programmed drums, on the new album you’ve gone for a mix of both live and programmed. How does it affect the songwriting process, going back to live drums?

Burton: It improves the situation. One of the aspects that was missed in the Fear Factory sound was the human element in the rhythm, the human element in the groove. There’s things that a human can do that a machine cannot. We felt that was essential for the new album, to create that.

Dave: So what are the plans for the next year or so, you’ve only just come to Australia (for Soundwave), but is that on the horizon, another tour?

Burton: We’ll be back. We’ll be touring for at least another year and a half so we’ll be back hopefully in 2016, back to Australia to play songs from Genexus that fans have not heard yet!

Fear Factory: Site // Graphic Novel // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Youtube.

Nuclear Blast: Site // Facebook // Youtube.