released June 22nd, 2010
from the album - Shifting Through The Lens
from all music
Front Line Assembly was the best known of the various electronic music projects undertaken by the prolific Vancouver-based duo of Bill Leeb (vocals, synthesizers) and Rhys Fulber (synthesizers, samplers). After working in the mid-'80s under the pseudonym Wilhelm Schroeder with Skinny Puppy, the Austrian-born Leeb formed the industrial/techno-based Front Line Assembly in 1986 with Fulber — who initially joined on as a studio assistant — and synth player Michael Balch. After a handful of compilation appearances and cassette-only releases, Front Line Assembly issued its first three full-length efforts — The Initial Command, State of Mind, and Corrosion — on a monthly basis between December 1987 and February 1988. Later in 1988, Corrosion, a subsequent mini-album titled Disorder, and a number of exclusive bonus tracks were compiled and released as Convergence.
In 1989, the group returned with the album Gashed Senses & Crossfire, which contained the dance-flavored singles "Digital Tension Dementia" and "No Limit." A European tour in support of the record yielded a live album — titled simply Live — that was released and deleted on the same day in a limited edition of 4,000 pressings. After Balch departed Front Line Assembly in 1990, Fulber stepped in as a full partner; the streamlined duo soon released the electro-styled album Caustic Grip, while 1992's Tactical Neural Implant found the group's music moving in a harder-edged disco direction. By 1994, the sound evolved yet again, with the album Millennium displaying a newfound reliance on guitars; both the title track and "This Faith" scored as club hits. Fulber departed the lineup by 1997, while his replacement Chris Peterson debuted with 1998's Monument. Implode appeared one year later. Sticking with a heavy dose of synth pop trance and throbbing melodies, Leeb and Peterson issued Epitaph in fall 2001. Rhys Fulber returned for the 2001 album Civilization and remained for the 2006 release Artificial Soldier, which found guitarist/keyboardist Jeremy Inkel joining the band. The remix album Fallout followed in 2007.
With longtime on-again, off-again member Rhys Fulber falling into the latter category, Front Line Assembly’s 2010 effort is the kind of “evolution” — or maybe “growing pains” — album that will be familiar to veteran fans. Here FLA constant Bill Leeb is joined by Jeremy Inkel, Chris Peterson, and Jared Slingerland for a four-piece “band” version of the project. It makes complete sense on numbers like “Angriff,” “Release,” and “Pressure Wave,” all of which could be passed off as metal-industrial juggernauts Rammstein singing in English. While these guitar-heavy and lurching tracks are satisfying, the best moments are either rooted in classic FLA formula (the electro-industrial club monster “Shifting Through the Lens,” the icy cold landscape “Downfall”) or come from the band’s returning appreciation of both the experimental and difficult (the spooky robot anthem “I.E.D.,” the shotgun blast called “Stupidity” with guest vocalist Al Jourgensen). Having navigated these mixed bags before, longtime listeners should be more than willing to dive in. They’ll be rewarded with a heavy handful of reminders of why they signed on in the first place.
1 I.E.D. Front Line Assembly, Leeb 6:34
2 Angriff Front Line Assembly, Leeb 6:43
3 Hostage Front Line Assembly, Leeb 6:57
4 Release Front Line Assembly ... 5:20
5 Shifting Though the Lens Front Line Assembly, Leeb 6:06
6 Laws of Deception Front Line Assembly, Leeb 5:20
7 Pressure Wave Front Line Assembly, Leeb 4:57
8 Afterlife Front Line Assembly, Leeb 5:57
9 Stupidity Front Line Assembly ... 4:15
10 Downfall Front Line Assembly, Leeb 8:06