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City of Fire is a side project featuring Fear Factory’s Burton C. Bell and Byron Stroud that opts to minimize the mechanical feel of their main act for a more organic delivery and streamlined sound heavy on grooves while exhibiting a brooding metallic atmosphere not unlike Soundgarden (“Spirit Guide”). On this quintet’s eponymous 12-track debut, a discernibly mellower vibe is audible thanks to a rash of dynamic acoustic interludes and atmospheric breakdowns peppered in (“Dark Tides”), yet City of Fire still engages the firepower and heeds the call to crank when needed with an alternative metal wallop smack dab in between grunge and arena rock (“Hanya”, “Rising”). Producing an album with moments that you can finger as pure Fear Factory despite placing an emphasis on melancholy and accessibility, City of Fire is a polarizing effort that only open-minded fans of the member’s other outfit should approach.
- Mike SOS