During an appearance on the latest episode of "The Ex-Man" podcast hosted by Doc Coyle (BAD WOLVES),Burton C. Bell reflected on what life has been like for him in the year and a half since he exited FEAR FACTORY. The singer said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I feel really good. I've been creative. I've been working on various new projects, just extending my creative abilities outward and onward, not just musically but writing, photography, even extending towards painting and stuff like that — just being fully creative in every possible way. I'm not saying I did nothing for two years but I've been busy for two years as well just moving forward in my life path and my career. And I haven't looked back."
He added: "Of course, I'm very proud of all the work I've done in the past, and always will be — except maybe a couple of songs. [Laughs] It was time for me to forward, and it was that time."
Bell also touched upon FEAR FACTORY's latest album, "Aggression Continuum", which was released in June 2021 via Nuclear Blast Records. The LP, which was recorded primarily in 2017, features Bell and fellow original FF member Dino Cazares (guitar) alongside drummer Mike Heller.
"I was just happy that record finally came out," Burton said. "We finished that record in 2017. By the time it came out, I'd forgotten all about it. 'Oh, yeah, I remember that song. Oh yeah.'
"There's some good songs on that record. The song 'Collapse' is a good song. The title track 'Monolith' is a good song," he added, referencing the LP's original working title, before it was changed by Cazares.
When Coyle noted that the mix on "Aggression Continuum" is "great," Bell hesitated for a couple of seconds before reluctantly agreeing. "I guess," he said. "When I finished the record [in 2017], the record was done and agreed upon and then further work was done without my say."
Elsewhere in the chat, Burton said admitted that "it was difficult" for him to leave FEAR FACTORY. "Stepping away from FEAR FACTORY was not an easy decision by [any] means," he said. "But what I experienced for the 10 years before that, the lawsuits, the acrimony, that was the one that killed me. And I just had to step away to realize, you know, they can take all this stuff from me — they can take the money, they can take the royalties, they can take the trademark away from me — and I realized that didn't define me. They can take that, but I'm still Burton C. Bell, motherfucker, and whatever I have they can't take. So I'm just kind of moving forward and doing new things."
According to Bell, hardship is par for the course for most musicians, who often find themselves victims of bad contracts, unscrupulous management and, all too often, what appears to be a penchant for self-destruction.
"I knew a long time ago I wanted to be an artist — way before I was in FEAR FACTORY," he said. "When I was in high school, I was, like, 'I wanna be an artist.' To be an artist, you've gotta suffer. You've gotta understand that people wanna take from you the entire time — what you create they wanna make money off of and take it away from you and just give you a pittance. But being bitter is not my style — never has been.
"Whatever negativity has happened in the past with FEAR FACTORY doesn't even hold up to the amount of positivity that has happened," he continued. "If you think about the negative, it can weigh you down so much, but it's not really that much in comparison to what the band achieved, what we created, what we provided to the music world, and for that I'm proud and very happy.
"No one likes to talk to a bitter person at all," Burton added. "Me for one. It's, like, 'Man, just get over it and just move on.' 'Cause holding on to the past doesn't serve me anything, it doesn't serve anybody else anything. Move on and show 'em what you can do from that point forward."
In September 2020, Bellissued a statement officially announcing his departure from FEAR FACTORY, saying that he "cannot align" himself with someone whom he does not trust or respect.
Bell's exit from FEAR FACTORY came more than two weeks after Cazares launched a GoFundMe campaign to assist him with the production costs associated with the release of FEAR FACTORY's latest LP.
Bell later told Kerrang! magazine that his split with FEAR FACTORY was a long time coming. "It's been on my mind for a while," he said. "These lawsuits [over the rights to the FEAR FACTORY name] just drained me. The egos. The greed. Not just from bandmembers, but from the attorneys involved. I just lost my love for it.
"With FEAR FACTORY, it's just constantly been, like, 'What?!' You can only take so much. I felt like 30 years was a good run. Those albums I've done with FEAR FACTORY will always be out there. I'll always be part of that. I just felt like it was time to move forward."
In October 2020, Dino issued a statement in which he said that the door for Burton to come back to FEAR FACTORY wouldn't "stay open forever." The guitarist also revealed that Burton "lost his legal rights" to the FEAR FACTORY name "after a long court battle" with drummer Raymond Herrera and bassist Christian Olde Wolbers. "I had the opportunity to do something right, and I felt that obtaining the name in full was the right thing to do for the both of us, so after nearly four years we can continue as FEAR FACTORY, to make more records and to tour," he said. "That is why it is sad to hear that he decided to quit and, in my opinion, for whatever issues he has it seems like it could've been worked out."
Earlier this week, Cazares discussed Bell's departure from FEAR FACTORY during an appearance on "The Garza Podcast", hosted by SUICIDE SILENCE guitarist Chris Garza. Pressed about what happened to cause Burton to leave, Dino said: "Good question. I don't know. I think he just lost interest in… I can only assume, because we went through some really heavy lawsuits for four years, and it financially crippled us — personally as well — and I just believe that he lost interest. I think that possibly all the stuff that we went through in FEAR FACTORY was just, like… He's one of those guys, 'Fuck it. I'm out. I quit. Fuck it.' He doesn't come across as a fighter — as somebody who's gonna be, like, 'Fuck it. We went through it. Let's go through it and let's just continue.' I mean, I left the door open for him for a while to come back into the band, but he pretty much said fuck me, Raymond [Herrera, former FEAR FACTORY drummer] and Christian [Olde Wolbers, former FEAR FACTORY bassist] — everybody. Fuck everybody.
"I'm not gonna push it," Dino added. "I'm not gonna push him or nothing like that. Fans ask me all the time: 'Hey, call him up. Just call him up.' Well, if you saw the stuff he said when he left, he's not exactly a phone call away… He left pretty bitter, and that's pretty much where… It looks like he's having a good time being free. So I'm not gonna force anybody to come back or [any] stuff like that.
"Some people want change in their life, but sometimes fans just can't accept that. Fans are, like, 'He was the singer for 30 years. Come back.' That was his decision. No one pushed him out; no one forced him to leave — none of that stuff. That was his decision."
Dino has spent the last few months working with a new FEAR FACTORY singer whose identity has not yet been revealed.
Two months ago, former NIGHTRAGE singer Antony Hämäläinen, who recently unsuccessfully auditioned for the vocalist slot in FEAR FACTORY, claimed in an interview that the new FF frontman is "a person from Italy." He also added that a female vocalist who is "in a band with somebody who's a well-known producer/musician" auditioned for the position as well but didn't get the gig.
Bell's ASCENSION OF THE WATCHERS project released its second full-length album, "Apocrypha", in October 2020 via Dissonance Productions.