I have to admit that going into this I was pretty skeptical. I haven't been fond of any FF work sans Dino. So with Dino back in the fold, my skepticism should be unfounded. And it is. Mechanize is a killer album! Instead of just making me nostalgic for old FF, it stands on its own as one of their greatest works. I could care less about Christian Old-Wolbers, but I wish Ray Herrera could have been a part of this. But if you are going to replace the speed and precision of Mr. Herrera, it might as well be the one and only Gene Hoglan. He's a machine. Which fits well with the whole Fear Factory modus operandi. In my opinion, bassist Byron Stroud didn't have very big shoes to fill. Should FF have a full scale reunion (which I don't believe is necessary now), Christian would have to step up his game.
Speaking of game, Burton Bell sounds like he's at the top of his. As one of the progenitors of the clean/not clean vocal style, he is still head and shoulders above much of the competition. I'm actually having a hard time thinking of someone who does it better. Especially within the context of the music and content. Music and vocals meld to paint a picture on the mind. The clean vocals are like the human survivor amidst the machine destruction.
I know it's early in the year but Mechanize is leading the playcount of 2010 releases by a WIDE margin. Ahead of High on Fire if you can believe it. Tracks like "Mechanize", "Powershifter", "Christploitation" and phenomenal closer "Final Exit" beg to be heard over and over again. Nothing Fear Factory releases will ever live up to the status Demanufacture has achieved. Not because it's THAT much better but because it was their breakthrough album and it changed the course of industrial metal. Mechanize will never be seen as an equal to that album but history could prove it to be FF's second best.
P.S. Like Deftones did with....that guy, and Clutch (briefly) did with Mick Shauer, Fear Factory should just make Rhys Fulber a full-time member of the band. Dude has a golden touch.