Don't be fooled. The hushed vocals and muted guitars that open Factory 81
's debut album Mankind
are simply the calm before the storm. Combining jackboot funk-metal rhythms, Middle Eastern melodies and hip-hop grooves, Mankind
heralds the messianic arrival of a contemporary rock juggernaut. Featuring 11 original compositions - including "Peace Officer," a dynamic bonus track remixed by Rhys Fulber (Fear Factory
, Machine Head
) - the enhanced CD also showcases live footage culled from recent performances. Challenging, impassioned and almost mechanically precise, Mankind
sounds like the monstrous spawn of some blitzkrieging man-machine.
While many contemporary bands have adopted a metal-funk stance, the members
of Factory 81
come by their influences naturally. The band hails from Detroit, the smokestack epicenter of American popular music. With the nationwide release of their independently-produced debut album, Factory 81
officially heralds the Motor City's musical reemergence.
But make no mistake: Though Factory 81
is proud of their Detroit heritage, the band stubbornly shuns populist antics. As Mankind
righteously attests, Factory 81
is closer to the non-conformist fringe than the privileged upper class. Indeed, while most bands harbor dreams of rock stardom, Factory 81
challenges fans to question their idol worship
proclivities. "If I stood before you with my face deformed/ you'd turn and laugh now/ it wouldn't matter that I'm a life," vocalist Nate Wallace sings on "Diary of a Serial Killer
." Displaying an endearingly foolhardy tendency to bite the hand that feeds them, Factory 81
bolts to the forefront of the modern rock milieu.
For their part, the band says Mankind
echoes their raucous live performances. "It's definitely an intense, groove-oriented album," says guitarist, Bill Schulz. "Everybody in the band contributed. We all hate predictability and the obvious. We always try to do things differently when we write songs."
Singer/lyricist Nate Wallace says the Factory 81
sound is the result of varying influences. "We try to utilize and incorporate a lot of diverse elements like jazz, hip-hop and tribal-based drum beats," the singer says.
"Kevin, our bass player, listens to a lot of heavy stuff, while my influences are Black Sabbath
, Bjork and old jazz like Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. Everybody's got an interesting influence they bring to the band."
With their disdain for the ordinary, Factory 81
creates an earthshaking din that is manifest in Wallace's tooth-gnashing vocals and Schulz's saw-toothed guitar. The bands love of hardcore metal and funk is evident in the low-frequency roar of bassist Kevin Lewis and the percussive assaults of Andy Cyrulnik. Tracks like "Peace Officer," Cheese Wheel
," and "Belligerence
," conjure cinematic images of collapse, apocalypse and scorched earth.
According to Wallace, Mankind
was composed and recorded in an instinctual rush. "The record just kind of developed into a concept album, except it doesn't have a specific concept," the singer says. "There are a lot of statements about social and political topics and
spiritual aspects. But there was never a plan or anything. It all just came together."
"Though we might sing about police brutality, the media and other things, we ultimately want people to interpret the songs for themselves," says Wallace."You might hear a phrase that reminds you of a certain thing, but we try not to be too specific. We want people to think."
Independently produced by the band itself, Mankind
was initially released in Detroit in 1999. In its effusive review of the disc, Pimp Rock Palace
wrote: "(Factory 81
) has what it takes to make innovative, cutting-edge, emotion-drenched music." Major labels picked up the scent and began wooing the band. Not surprisingly, the foursome followed its collective gut and chose California-based indie, Mojo Records. "The people at Mojo were on the same
wavelength as us," says guitarist Schulz. "They had the independent touch we wanted, with the added bonus of having the power of Universal Distribution."
Look for Factory 81
on the Republic/Universal Records compilation, "Take a Bite Outta Rhyme
: A Rock Tribute to Rap." The band contributes a cover of the Cypress Hill classic, "Insane
in the Brain." Other bands featured include Staind
, Bloodhound Gang
, Insane Clown
Posse, Kid Rock and others.
But while the tribute disc finds Factory 81
performing alongside their aggro peers, the bands debut album offers a listening experience all its own. Veritably seething with primal rock rhythms, chanted vocals and strange incantations, Mankind
establishes Factory 81
as the thinking person's aggro-metal outfit.