Artist: Front Line Assembly
CD Title: Echogenetic
Label: Metropolis Records
Genre: Industrial, EBM, electronic
"Front Line Assembly is the primary focus of Vancouver-based musician Bill Leeb. A founding member of Skinny Puppy, Leeb moved on to form FLA in 1986 with Michael Balch, releasing some cassettes (since released as Total Terror I & II) which paved the way for their 1987 releases: The Initial Command, State of Mind, and Corrosion. In late 1988, they recorded the mini-LP Disorder, since combined with Corrosion and released as Corroded Disorder. Their 1989 release, Gashed Senses and Crossfire, further cemented their popularity in the industrial scene, and prompted their first world tour. By 1990, Balch had departed and Rhys Fulber rounded out the duo, releasing Caustic Grip.Throughout the years, FLA has seen many line-up changes. Bill Leeb remains the constant behind the band. For 2010, a new line-up has emerged featuring Jeremy Inkel, Chris Peterson on programming duties, and Jared Slingerland on Guitars, and FLA has been joined by Three Inches of Blood guitarist Justin Hagberg, and guest keyboardist Craig Huxtable of Landscape Body Machine.
Bill's work can also be heard on a wide number of side projects, including Noise Unit, Delerium, InterMix, Cyberaktif, Equinox, and Synaesthesia. Bill has also contributed music to the popular video game, Quake 3 - The Arena."
Now that we have covered the history, let's see what their new album Echogenetic has in store for us. I'm going to break it down for you all track by track. First off, I really loathe dubstep, and lately Front Line Assembly likes to incorporate a lot of that particular genre into their music. Leveled, sounds like Skinny Puppy does dubstep. It's not terrible, but it's forgettable and weak.
I love "Killing Grounds", not only because it reminds me of their classic EBM sound like on my favorite FLA album Caustic Grip, but it also is a bit of a wink and a nod to EBM masters Nitzer Ebb. This is one of the strongest and dance driven tracks on Echogenetic ."Blood reminds" me of a poppier version of Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails. In fact, it really sounds like it could have very easily been written and produced by Trent himself. This would be the strongest contender for mainstream radio play. "Deadened"is a really great track. It's feels a bit like sleeze disco from the 80's without sounding like disco. Many of the tracks in the 80's by veteran electro pioneers Cabaret Voltaire had a very similar feel to FLA's "Deadened", with songs like "Sensoria" and "Drink Your Poison". This is perfect for the dance floor and would work as a late night or even peak hour track.
"Ghosts", is a very dark and sultry track, not as danceable as "Deadened", but really nice to listen to. "Ghosts" also has a very commercial sound akin to the track "Blood".
The title track "Echogenetic", is a very slow, dragging, dark dubstep infused track. I don't hate it, but it really doesn't do anything for me. It's interesting to listen to while you are eating cereal.
I love "Exhale", this is another track that will be popular on dark dance floors all over the world. Though I wouldn't exactly call it EBM, it has more of a classic industrial feel, which was refreshing to hear again. Fantastic track! "Exo" is basic standard FLA fare. It's downbeat and emotional "death crawl" sound fits perfectly into the atmosphere of the rest of Echogenetic.
"Prototype" is really just filler. It is an interesting enough track to tie your shoes to, good for a listen. It sounds more like a prologue and much less like an actual track. It's should have been used earlier in the album as a good transitional track.
"Heartquake" has a very classic Depeche Mode-esque feel in terms of it's new wave-ish melody. Because of this, I quite like this track.
As a huge fan of the 80's, I am really happy with this album. I'm quite certain that FLA will be judged harshly on this album, because it is leaning in a more commercial and retro direction. Diehard fans of FLA's edgier EMB and industrial sound, may have a difficult time identifying with this awesome album, as opposed to someone who might be more open minded to let FLA explore their more retro roots.
Echogenetic isn't anything groundbreaking, new or innovative. I love their creative and incredible use of vocal distortion. Not surprisingly, it reminds me of Bill's work with Skinny Puppy. Overall, What I really like about it is the clever mix of retro versus contemporary. Echogenetic is a really fantastic album that has moments of true brilliance. I can honestly say without a doubt that Echogenetic is their best album since their unbeatable classics, Caustic Grip and Gashed Senses & Crossfire, Tactical Neural Implant and Millennium.
Sadly, at least at this point, there are no special extended, or Deluxe editions with bonus remixes or extra tracks. So pretty much what you see, is what you get. However, if you are a vinylfreak, then you'll be happy to know that a limited edition 2 LP vinyl will also be available.
Check out Front lIne Assembly- Killing Grounds
Buy Front Line Assembly- Echogenetic on Amazon
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