Apart from a few surprising missteps that proved to be the exception rather than the rule, Front Line Assembly's career has been marked by nothing so much as consistency. They've got an established sound, it's true, but it's also an incredibly influential one; you couldn't set foot in an industrial club throughout the '90s and not expect to hear a few of their songs. To keep things fresh, members Bill Leeb, Rhys Fulber and Chris Peterson have worked on numerous side projects, exploring everything from electronic pop to tribal techno, but Front Line Assembly remains the same, with darkly danceable songs about cyborgs and futuristic combat. Their latest effort is no exception, with apocalyptic visions evoked on tracks like "Buried Alive" and "Humanity (World War 3)." Leeb's vocals are a bit more melodic than usual, and "Unleashed" and "Decsention" actually have a chorus catchy enough to stick in your head, while hints of drum 'n' bass on several tracks keep the band's sound evolving without drastically changing their formula. There are also a few unexpected treats in the form of guest spots from Front 242's Jean-Luc De Meyer and Covenant's Eskil Simonsson. "Future Fail" starts out like a typical Front Line Assembly track, but De Meyer's German-accented vocals give it a totally different flavor, evoking both classic bands without sounding exactly like either one. "The Storm," on the other hand, could be mistaken for a Covenant B-side, with Simonsson's dramatic baritone soaring over thickly oscillating analog synths. Apart from the guest appearances, though, Artificial Soldier is classic Front Line Assembly, albeit with subtler arrangements and more modern production values. If you like the band, you'll probably like this as well; if you were bored by their earlier albums, don't expect to be converted by this one.
Visit www.mindphaser.com for news and information about Front Line Assembly and related projects.
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