The year was 1995; I had recently seen the movie Mortal Kombat. Liking the music in the film, I went out and picked up the soundtrack. The disk is packed with great tunes; one of the cuts that jumped out at me was "Zero Signal" by a group called Fear Factory. This led me to a remix album called Fear is the Mindkiller and finally onto Demanufacture.
By this point I had fallen head over heels in love with this fascinating industrial metal act. The extremely tight precision, the brutal pairing of guitar and drums, the unique (to me at the time) combination of melodic singing and raw throated growls and screams, all drew me in. To this day I love the band, despite the drama that has surrounded them over the years. What does that have to do with Ascension of the Watchers? Well, this is Fear Factory frontman Burton C. Bell's side project. Now, if you are expecting anything like Fear Factory, you will be sorely disappointed as it would be harder for him to get any further away.
The Ascension of the Watchers project is a huge departure from the heavy styles of Fear Factory. There are no jackhammer riffs, no skull crushing drums, no vocals that make your throat bleed. This is not a metal album, pure and simple. This is Burton expanding his horizons, stepping away from his metal roots and displaying another side of himself, a side that he claims is the real him.
In an interview reported at Blabbermouth.com, Burton essentially outs himself as a non-metal guy. Now, I do not believe this was the complete intention, but it can be interpreted as him distancing himself from what has been the bread and butter of his career, thus threatening to alienate a good portion of his fanbase. I am more apt to believe that he merely wanted to express another part of himself. As an artist grows and matures it is natural to want to express oneself in other ways, Ascension of the Watchers is Bell's way of doing just that.