For those still perplexed by Burton C. Bell's decision to quit FEAR FACTORY just as new album "Aggression Continuum" burst into view, part of the explanation is available here. Criminally overlooked upon its original release in 2020, ASCENSION OF THE WATCHERS' second album "Apocrypha" thoroughly deserves a second crack at the whip, not least because it eliminated any sense that Bell's long-time but infrequent concern was only a side project. Forged in collaboration with Jayce Lewis and John Bechdel, the band's follow-up to 2008's "Numinosum" remains a rich, immersive and forward-thinking gothic rock record, and one that provided a much-overdue showcase for Bell's oft-maligned clean voice. Unfolding amid densely atmospheric backdrops, songs like "The End Is Always The Beginning" and "Honoré" delved into emotional depths that Bell could never realistically plumb with his former band. Reveling in a futuristic new take on his new wave, electronic and gothic influences, he has never sounded more engaged or engaging than he does on dark heartbreakers like "Ghost Heart" and the gorgeous "Keys To The Cosmos". Long may this creative streak continue.
Of course, the main focus of this re-release, and the reason for its new title, is a 53-minute eruption of remixed versions of cuts from the original album. Bell has already acknowledged the antecedent of FEAR FACTORY's "Fear Is The Mindkiller" remix project, and a similar approach is taken here, albeit nearly 30 years later and with decades of new inspirations to power the mutations. It seems unlikely that any long-time Burt fans will be freaked out by thumping techno, screeching industrial, woozy ambience or all-consuming avalanches of modular synth. Everything from "Stormcrow" ("Become A Warrior") to Bell's synth-rock deconstruction of "Apocrypha" makes perfect sense in the context of the singer's musical history. Mercifully bereft of over-used EDM tropes, each remix deigns to propose a new tonal and textural direction for ASCENSION OF THE WATCHERS' future. Among the most convincing, A.I. Zero's dismantling of "The End Is The Beginning" ("Paradise Found") is both wonderfully grandiose and disorienting but somehow even more moving than the original, while Bell's reworked "Wanderers" ("Not All Who Wander Are Lost") offers simmering electro-dub, brash, alt-rock crescendos and a spine-tingling sense of existential drift. You might even argue that "Translations" is ever-so-slightly superior to the original album. Either way, this is two great records for the price of one, and the unmistakable sound of an idiosyncratic artist in his most natural habitat.