Former FEAR FACTORY Singer BURTON C. BELL Announces Debut Exhibition Of Photographic WorksFebruary 22, 2023
Former FEAR FACTORY frontman Burton C. Bell will unveil "Paradise Found", his debut exhibition of photographic works, at the Vincent Castiglia Gallery in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from March 11 through May 23. The photographs Bell is presenting are representational of his industrial and science-fiction aesthetic.
"Paradise Found" consists of 20 original full-color photographs of abandoned industrial buildings taken in darkness and fog from 2002 to 2003. Bell's images are printed on aluminum using the dye sublimation process - an approach Bell calls "celluloid impressionism."
Bell is renowned for his 30-year career as the frontman and vocalist in the groundbreaking industrial-metal band FEAR FACTORY. His vocal style became the template for a genre of music that became a mainstay of the metal music scene. Bell's fascination with science fiction and his love for industrial buildings and machinery inspired his dystopian lyrical concepts. These themes evolved into focal points for his photography, in particular abandoned and derelict structures of a post-industrial society that have become obsolete.
In 2002, while recording new music in a studio surrounded by forest, it was in the borough of Milton, Pennsylvania, Bell found paradise within the small town that was once the heart of manufacturing in the Susquehanna Valley. Milton's days of industry are long gone; however, the factories and buildings remain dormant and empty, inspiring Bell's music and vision.
Bell states: "I am grateful to have this opportunity to show 'Paradise Found' at the Vincent Castiglia Gallery so that I can share the beauty I saw during those few seconds of exposure. These prints have not been photoshopped. This is exactly what I was seeing."
"Paradise Found" is part of Bell's grander vision as he pursues his next chapter as an artist.
The Vincent Castiglia Gallery opened in 2022 to showcase Castiglia's tattoo designs and selection of limited-edition painting prints.
During an April 2022 appearance on an episode of "The Ex-Man" podcast hosted by Doc Coyle (BAD WOLVES),Bell 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."
Bell's ASCENSION OF THE WATCHERS project released its second full-length album, "Apocrypha", in October 2020 via Dissonance Productions.
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