As you read this, the men of Fear Factory are hunkered down in their practice space in downtown Los Angeles writing what "Alternative Press" has already called one of the most anticipated albums of this year."Wait 'til they hear it," frontman Burton Bell joked of the honor. Of course, it's far too soon to tell if fans will be satisfied, or if (as Bell joked) Fear Factory's next effort will get the cold shoulder. The band isn't really worried about that right now. Bell, guitarist Dino Cazares, bassist Christian Olde Wolbers, and drummer Raymond Herrera are taking the first steps toward what some think could be a big album for Fear Factory, but the band isn't letting the talk seep into the studio. "It doesn't really weigh on me," Bell said of the pressure, or lack thereof, that the phrase "eagerly anticipated" brings with it. "Other people's opinions and what they're expecting from me is their situation, not mine. I already put enough pressure on myself, and I don't need to let everybody else's pressures bother me." Instead, the bandmembers are taking it as it comes in the rehearsal space where they plan to write and possibly record the new album. Bell notes that the group has "nothing definite yet, but we've got some really good ideas coming together. "Everyone's really excited," Bell said. "Everyone's really anxious to get a new record out, and everyone's really anxious to put some new music down. Everyone's mind seems to be exploding with ideas. Everyone's sparking continually, so it's a constantly good vibe." Part of that good vibe can be attributed to the band's new approach to songwriting this time around. Bell says that the group's tried and true approach was beginning to feel "a little stagnant," and that the band switched things up this time around and "the freshness of the approach really seems to be working for those guys... The creative spark is really high." Bell notes that Fear Factory is still at step one in the creative process. His bandmates convene in the studio to crank out music for the new album, and have requested that Bell steer clear of rehearsals until they have some song ideas fleshed out. "They want to have four or five things finished just to get rolling, and then I'm going to try to put lyrics to it," [RealAudio] Burton explained. The vocalist has yet to pen any lyrics for the album and plans to steer clear of the concept album approach he took on the group's last offering, 1998's "Obsolete." "I did a storyline last time, and I'm staying away from that idea this time. I'd like to try something else. However, we're definitely going to stick with the concept of Fear Factory and the man vs. machine idea. We'll still stick with that and just keep it aggressive and melodic at the same time." [RealAudio] Bell says that the band has some new musical tricks up its sleeve as well, but notes that fans of the group's high-tech approach to metal won't be thrown for a loop. "We're definitely trying some new musical ideas and elements just to try something new. Different types of riffs, different types of melodies. Obviously they'll be different, but we're taking another approach to it." The winds of change have swept through the band's approach to production as well. While "Obsolete" was as slick a rock record as you're likely to find, the group has a different agenda this time out. "What we're looking to do is capture Fear Factory as we are, not too much of a produced record," [RealAudio] Bell said. "'Obsolete' was a very good record, but it was also very produced, and we're going to step away from the full production value of it and just be what we are." [RealAudio] As for who will help guide that relatively hands-off production, the band has a few candidates in mind, but hasn't settled on a producer yet. The group's record label hopes to have the new Fear Factory album in stores this fall.