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Case Number 06026: Small Claims Court

Buy Fear Factory: Bite The Hand That Bleeds And Related Archetypal Imagery at Amazon

Fear Factory: Bite The Hand That Bleeds And Related Archetypal Imagery

Navarre // 2004 // 19 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Chief Counsel Rob Lineberger (Retired) // January 21st, 2005

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All Rise...

Yes, Appellate Judge Rob Lineberger's hand will bleed. But if you try to bite it, he will beat you down with his gavel.

The Charge

The archetypal imagery within this DVD is a documentation of one band's story, archived in a moment of time as a part of our history.

The Case

This offering by Fear Factory is a true multimedia experience. The maxi-single CD is ostensibly the main feature, but in this case the descriptor "maxi" is a misnomer: The single contains one song that clocks in at just over four minutes. In other words, the CD is almost an afterthought.

The bulk of the package is a bonus DVD with five videos that have been produced for the band's "Archetype" album. Most of those videos cross over into other media, such as movie soundtracks (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), Saw,) or even soundtracks for movies that are based on video games (Galerians: Rion). There is also a mini-poster with the band's new logo. To their credit, Liquid 8 Records has priced the Bite the Hand that Bleeds and Related Archetypal Imagery maxi-single under ten dollars to reflect its "mini" status.

The DVD contains five videos, but three of them are for the same song. The videos are:

•"Cyberwaste," 3:34
This straight-ahead performance video sets a powerful tone, getting the blood flowing as the band thrashes ahead. It has been a while since I inhabited a mosh pit or banged my head for hours at a concert, but I fell right back into the groove. The video does a good job of establishing Fear Factory's strength, which is pounding out songs without much fanfare. Of all the material on this release, "Cyberwaste" does the band the most justice. However, I'm saddened to report that frontman Burton C. Bell's enthusiastically erect middle finger has been blurred out by a blotch of pixels. Given that the bird underscores the song's main theme of "F*** YOU," it is particularly maddening. Let me get this straight: this hard-rocking, eff-youing, be-true-to-yourself band is afraid to show an uncensored middle finger? I was hoping that Fear Factory was above such corporate meddling.

•"Archetype (Narrative)," 3:52
I'm glad that "Cyberwaste" set the tone, because the next three videos tread questionable waters. "Archetype" is not as catchy or moving as "Cyberwaste"; in fact, it feels rather introspective and restrained. I get that "Archetype" is the name of the album and everything, but it just isn't a good enough song to support three videos. This version is a mixture of performance footage and narrative, although it struck me as surprisingly un-freaky.

•"Archetype (Remix)," 4:23
And now for something completely different. This anime video features clips, or perhaps just characters, from Galerians: Rion. I want to say this delicately, so that hordes of hardcore Fear Factory fans don't give me a blanket party on my way home from work: "Archetype (Remix)" doesn't show Fear Factory in the best light. They don't do a lot of videos, and Burton C. Bell isn't entirely comfortable in front of the exploding CGI backgrounds. The video isn't bad, although it reminds me a lot of playing a video game; I wanted to take control of the pathetic main character and dish out a rain of destructive lightning bolts.

•"Archetype (Performance)," 3:49
This straightforward performance video gets back to the good stuff, but by this time we've seen much of the footage already and heard the song twice.

•"Bite the Hand that Bleeds," 3:58
"Bite the Hand that Bleeds" is an interesting video experiment that once again threatens to paint Fear Factory as a generic heavy rock band seeking to break into mainstream corporate rotation. As characters from the psycho-thriller Saw do their thing, members of Fear Factory do the same thing. The video is vaguely horrific, occasionally cheesy, and poorly integrated. Let me put it to you this way: Tool, Marilyn Manson, Korn, and Disturbed have all produced freakier, heavier, more cohesive videos in the same general vein as this. I can't help but feel that Fear Factory is trying on a new outfit that doesn't suit them.

The sum effect: This video-audio combo probably won't draw in new Fear Factory fans, but it will be a rare treat for current fans. You need to know where the band has come from to see where they are going with this package. I felt it went into trite, cheesy territory once too often, which neutralizes the band's historical focus on unapologetic mayhem. Fans can see past that to sense what is new for the band and what is central to their vibe. Fear Factory was on the cusp of hard rock's new feel, and this package has a bit of "me too" in it. They don't need to take this stance: Fear Factory has enough innate appeal to do their thing without the movie tie-ins, anime battles, fake blood, and other theatrics. The best news is the reasonable price, which makes the DVD-CD combo a decent value for those who want to see the men behind the music.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 70

Perp Profile

Studio: Navarre
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• PCM 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 19 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Concerts and Musicals
• Performance
• Short Films

Distinguishing Marks

• CD Maxi Single for "Bite the Hand that Bleeds"
• Mini-Poster

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