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Front Line Assembly

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Front Line Assembly - Bill Leeb & Rhys FulberLine-Up:
Bill Leeb, permanent member, vocals, programming, production
Michael Balch (87-89), keyboards
Rhys Fulber (89-97, back in 2003), sampling, programming, production
Chris Peterson (98-01)


"Front Line Assembly began in early 1985 in Vancouver, under its creator, Bill Leeb. Known as Wilhelm Schroeder, he was a member of the infamous Skinny Puppy, early on and was present for its nurturing, but he left during Puppy's recording of 'Mind:The Perpetual Intercourse,' to pursue his own career. He wanted to concentrate on something, which wasn't as jarring and blatant as Skinny Puppy and the result was the formation of Front Line Assembly. He changed his name to Bill Leeb and released his first two cassettes under the FLA moniker, entitled 'Nerve War' and 'Total Terror.' (…) KK Records, a belgian label, took notice of the two cassette releases and signed the band. In early '87, FLA released their first album, 'The Initial Command.' while most of the masterminding on the album was done by Leeb, there were contributions by two future members, Michael Balch and Rhys Fulber. (…) Later in the year, FLA moved to dossier records and Michael Balch became a full-time member. The group, as a duo, began work and in early '88, they released 'State of Mind.' (…) Later that year, Front Line Assembly signed up with third mind records in the U.K. and in the U.S., they came to the noted industrial playground at the time, Wax Trax! with artists like Ministry, Kmfdm, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, Front 242 and Die Warzau calling Wax Trax home, it was a perfect place for FLA to be nurtured and for their sound to be appreciated. (…) in '89, after their first European tour, Balch left the band to explore other interests, one of which lead him into an early Ministry line-up. The departure allowed Rhys Fulber to become a full-time member of Front Line Assembly. "
-- DJ Maharaja

 FrontLine Assembly Discography - Album / CD Reviews

1987: The Initial Commandaudio (Re-released in '92)

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1988: State of Mindaudio (Re-released in '92, and '96 w/ bonus track)

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1988: Convergence/Corroded Disorderaudio

Initially released as Convergence in 1988, including the songs on then two EPs released in vinyl format earlier this year: Corrosion EP & Disorder EP. The CD was re-released as Corroded Disorder in 1996 with a few extra tracks.

1989: Gashed Senses and Crossfireaudio

"I have been listening to FLA since the late 80's. I consider Front Line Assembly the number one industrial band of all time and I feel 'Gashed Senses & Crossfire' is their best album hands down and I have virtually everything [they] produced including their albums under other names such as Intermix, Noise Unit and Cyberaktif. (...) 'Gashed Senses & Crossfire' has so much happening on each song that it takes repeated listening through headphones or at high volume to either hear or comprehend all of the special effects and sound artifacts which are constantly changing throughout the entire album. 'Gashed Senses & Crossfire' is the album that made Industrial my favorite genre and FLA my favorite cabal. From one audiophile to many others this album is a must have."
-- Dromie, for musicfolio.com, 1/07

*** 1990: Caustic Grip
"Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber (now permanent member) twisted and tweaked the nodes of Front Line Assembly to a new level with this release. Hard driving beats, intricately places rhythms and samples and Bill's methodical tone are fully realized on tracks like Resist, Victim, Overkill, Threshold, and Mental Distortion."
-- DJ Maharaja

Front Line Assembly - Tactical Neural Implant***½ 1992: Tactical Neural Implant

"Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber only really have one aim and that's to totally bombard and overtake your mind with machining visions of their own creation. This album heads ever closer to their idea of a Virtual Reality holocaustic euphonious trip. No need to rely on the butchery which became the Canadian duo's trademark a year or so ago, they've now refined their weaponry, nagging and poking around your brain-cells. An overload­ing, without overcharging and blowing fucked heads to pieces. Tunes here, such as The Blade, drag their ripening drum-beats to body-enticing, patterned depths, controlled and sluggish movements. (...) They blast away on the cyber-flighting Mindphaser, an ultimate spectacle, where imagination revels in truth, but what the hell is truth? FLA guide us further into their terroristic army of robotic truth... On their voyage into the altered-state they compel in the belief they'll conquer all. Lifeline returns in human form, the commanding Leeb voices an illusioning mortal feel, but the creator's have no intention of relinquishing their position - they are leaders after all! FLA will not rest until we all follow, android-fashioned to their selective, thought-bending, Bio-Mechanics of the musical world they'll draw into a safe-haven of circuits and meld your mind. FLA are assembling another generation. In God we may not trust, but give FLA everything. Tactical Neural Implant IS inside. "
-- Deadhead, Music From The Empty Quarter, Issue 5, /592

1994: Millenniumaudio

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1995: Hard Wiredaudio

"This album was the first FLA album to seemlessly integrate heavy distorted guitars with an electro industrial beat. Leebs's vocals complement the massive array of sounds used perfectly, and are different on nearly every track. This album is living proof of Leebs's and Fulbers's technical genius, with the execution of Mortal, a 5 minute instrumental track being the peak of this work, a truelly inspiring piece that uses samples from a film [no idea what] along with a steadily building military style drum beat to convey an image of urban destruction and human terror. Stand out tracks include Rebirth, with its punchy synth line and vocals that appear to be straight out of 'Forge of God' by Greg Bear, condemned with its heavy guitar riffage and Modus Operandi, the latter of which switches between totally flanged growling to vengeful screaming and is accompanied by some genuinley angered lyrics."
-- guest @ reviewcentre.com

1998: Flavour of the Weekaudio

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1999: Implodeaudio

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Front Line Assembly - Epitaph 2001: Epitaphaudio

"Better to burn out or fade away? That’s the question here, on what may turn out to be the last album from Industrial stalwarts Frontline Assembly. And unsurprisingly, as a possible meditation on a passing, Leeb and Peterson are found in a mood a tad more poetic than is usual under the Frontline moniker. (...) The momento mori aside, ‘Epitaph’ is typically strong Frontline Assembly material cutting consciously heavy-handed synth basslines across darkly claustrophobic drum structuring, resulting in something akin to ‘Hard Wired’ but without the immediate guitars. ‘Backlash’ discharges great balls of sonic corrosion, whilst ‘Conscience’ loses itself in a sea of precision percussion and piano. But there is something slightly uninvolving about ‘Epitaph’, as though in the intent of capturing a kind of middle ground between the speed metal-inspired ‘Millennium’ and FLA’s more techno-oriented roots, the duo found themselves with too little space to develop the music - and it lacks the kind of standout tracks that ‘Flavour of the Weak’ and ‘Millennium’ were stuffed full of. It also leaves a slight sensation of déjà vu, that in some ways the band have been here before, and more successfully... ‘Epitaph’ is good, but if Frontline Assembly want to go out, they can go out on something better than this."
-- Alex Whitehead, Rock Sound

Front Line Assembly - Civilization***¾ 2004: Civilizationaudio

"As alluded to by their previous album, 'Epitaph', Bill Leeb has all but jettisoned the oldschool, repetitive, angst ridden formula of FLA that was the benchmark of the eighties and nineties industrial/electro-EBM scene. Rhys Fulber is back and together the two have taken FLA into a bold new territory that elevates their familiar sound and takes it to the next artistic level and into the new millenium. There is a lot of oldschool Delerium influences on this album circa the 'Morpheus'/'Euphoric'/'Spiritual Archives' years that interleaves brilliant layers of surreal ambience with an artistically creative impulse. (...) The album begins with Psychosomatic, a little mix of D&B rhythm but as soon as Bill Leeb's definitive vocals kick in, we are immediatly comforted and assured that this is indeed the familiar FLA we have come to expect. (...) Civilization, the album's title track begins slowly with lush dark atmosphere brilliantly layered with dialogue samples extracted from the context of contemporary media and keying on soundbites of "Freedom" and "Civilization" looping endlessly in the background up until Leeb's politically barking vocals make their presence known. When the chorus kicks in, it sounds more like a ballad engineered as a single for commercial airplay (...) On Fragmented, harmonious female vocals lifted right from some of Delerium's latter and poppier tracks build gradually into Leeb's familiar aggressive vocals and accompanied perfectly by the orchestral classical sounds of violins brilliantly mixed into the melody. Dissident, is atmospherically reminiscent of something from Delerium's 'Spiritual Archives' with middle-eastern background vocals chanting amidst the surreal subtext and Leeb's daunting vocals that cry Skinny Puppy. (...) Civilization has unquestionably arrived as the best artistic effort from FLA in years and a welcomed surprise. Rhys Fulber has returned with the FLA formula and has definitely brought back the creative chemistry."
-- Dave Cordes, amazon customer review, 1/04

Front Line Assembly - Atificial Soldier***½ 2006: Artificial Soldier

Tracklisting: 01. Unleashed 02. Low Life 03. Beneath The Rubble 04. Dissension 05. Buried Alive 06. Dopamine 07. Social Enemy 08. Future Fail 09. The Storm 10. Humanity (World War Three)

"Bill Leeb, a founding member of industrial legends Skinny Puppy, returns the focus to his Front Line Assembly along with his partner in crime Rhys Fulber. Adding new member Jeremy Inkel as well as past contributor Chris Peterson, Frontline Assembly unleash a juggernaut of industrialized EBM. Two guest vocalists contribute as well with Covenant’s Eskil Simonsson (on The Storm) and Jean-Luc De Meyer of Front 242 fame (on Future Fail) adding their signature vocal deliveries to the fold. Pulsing beats that filter the synths into trance-esque club-friendly melodic mania dominate this album that boasts a truly awesome mix. Driving rhythms and that signature reverberated vocals make this yet another essential in a growing catalog of Frontline Assembly works."
-- J-Sin, smother.net

Front Line Assembly - Improvised Electronic Device***¾ 2010: Improvised Electronic Device

Tracklisting: 01. I. E. D. 02. Angriff 03. Hostage 04. Release 05. Shifting Through The Lens 06. Laws Of Deception 07. Pressure Wave 08. Afterlife 09. Stupidity (featuring Al Jourgensen) 10. Downfall

"The opening/title track I.E.D. stakes out the quartet's new creative turf right away with its creepy ambient effects and unsettling 5/4 time signature. (...) There's a definite Rammstein/Die Krupps feel to the following track Angriff, which slithers along menacingly thanks to a heavy bass line, chugging riffs and monster-sized vocals, but electro purists will prefer the politically-charged Hostage, a lightning-fast piece propelled by a speedy drum & bass loop and a buzzing bass pattern, reminiscent of classic FLA works like 'Mindphaser'. Next comes Release – a mid-tempo, buzzing beast that ascends from a half-awake nightmare feel into a boot-stomping robot death march, complete with multi-layered vocal chanting and just a touch of crunchy guitar to give it some dirt. The busy, bleep-tastic Shifting Through the Lens debuted early this year as the album's first single, and was originally conceived by Inkel, who impressed Leeb with the inventive sequencing. (...) Ministry founder Al Jourgensen lends his unmistakably aggressive touch to Stupidity, which Leeb says was inspired by that band's final studio album The Last Sucker. (...) Bookending the album with a dark ambient sci-fi/horror epic rivaling the title track, Downfall brings the album to a haunting conclusion: chopped-up vocal fragments, icy washes of synth strings, found-object beats and pulsing harmonics – accented with a soft piano line – combine for a cinematic, dark ambient coda. Coarse, terrifying, somber, hyperactive, angry and pensive, Improvised Electronic Device seems possessed of multiple personalities – but for that same reason it serves as a great introduction to this band's wildly diverse output, which has touched on just about every aspect and subgenre of electronic music over the past quarter-century.
-- Gregory Burkar, fearnet.com, 6/10
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Recommended Links:

The Official FLA/Delerium web site
Mindphaser: Front Line Assembly site
Front Line Assembly lyrics
 
Similar/Related Artists:

Skinny Puppy | Delerium | Conjure One | KMFDM | Front 242 | Nine Inch Nails | Ministry | Rammstein

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