Plugging Factory 81's disk, Mankind, into your stereo may not please your Garth Brooks-lovin' mother, but anyone into the heavier side of music will likely appreciate the sixty-three minutes of loud riffs and powerful screams that follow the pressing of "play." Although each of the eleven tracks on the disk are longer than usual (none are shorter than a full four minutes), you don't get that typical urge to "get this song over with" and press the "skip" button. Songs such as "Ephedrine" and "Cheese Wheel" are catchy enough to give you the immediate desire for more, yet angry enough to kind of creep you out at the same time. Vocally there are similarities between Factory 81's Nate Wallace and Tool's Maynard James Keenan, but after the similar melodic vocal stylings, that special thing that makes Factory 81 the band they are takes over. Singer Nate Wallace proves to have a large vocal range on the album, mostly on songs like "Sludge," where he gracefully goes from a perfectly smooth scream to a beautifully quiet whisper in a matter of beats.
Factory 81 are definitely not just another nu-metal band to hit today's scene. Although bands like Korn may come to mind while you listen, its more the shared anger of Korn and Factory 81 that will give you that impression, rather than the nu-metal feel that Factory 81 doesn't seem to have. These young lads from Detroit are a different form of metal. In songs like "Belligerence," you'll hear unique vocals described as "middle Eastern melodies" that you won't find anywhere else. But Wallace's unique and unpredictable voice isn't the only quality of Factory 81 that will keep your stereo on repeat! Intriguing drums, wicked bass lines, and heavy guitar sounds will rattle your speakers and send more than their fair share of shivers down your spine. All in all, Mankind takes its place as one of the best metal disks out there to this day -- it's worth the trouble of pissing off your Garth Brook's lovin' mom, that's for sure. (NK)
(MOJO Records/Universal Records -- 1453 14th Street Box 284, Santa Monica, CA. 90404; http://www.mojorecords.com/; Factory 81 -- http://www.factory81.com/)
In the New Old Fashioned Way
I'm not sure why the band makes a reference to "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree." I'm frankly not sure why they make most of the references on this album, but there are a lot. At some point during "Eleven Eleven," pianist Seth Timbs lapses into Monk's "Straight, No Chaser." For no good reason. "Marvel Girl" is a none-too-subtle lift of XTC's "That's Really Super, Super Girl." In short, this is an album for music dorks, by music dorks.
And there's nothing wrong with rolling out your references for display, I guess. Or maybe there is. I go back and forth on this album -- on the one hand, it's accomplished. It's very clear that the Ounces worked hard on this album. The lyrics are clever, in a worked-over sort of way, the arrangements are never dull and bear out the wordiness well, and the harmonies are darn-near flawless. But what I'm getting at here -- that other hand -- is that there's not much soul. All the elements been tagged and marked for your enjoyment. But, if your thing is played-to a-fault piano music in the Ben Folds Five vein, these are your guys. Run, don't walk. Or don't. (JC)
(Spongebath Records -- 101 N. Maple Street, Murfreesboro, TN. 37130; http://www.spongebathrec.com/)