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Frontline Assembly
(Metropolis Records)

Frontline Assembly have been making industrial music since before I even knew what the term meant. While other bands have been around for almost that same amount of time (most notibly Front 242 and KMFDM, who can never really quite decide whether they want to keep making music or not), Frontline Assembly boasts a huge catalog of music, and in that time main man Bill Leeb has also taken on several side projects, including Noise Unit and others. One of these others, Delerium, has even stepped past Frontline Assembly in terms of commercial success, but that hasn't stopped him from releasing just a smidge more angst into the world.

While the band has changed and morphed throughout the years, their lyrical content is something that has pretty much stayed the same. Whether they're talking about the gradual destruction of our planet, the apocolypse, or just good-old isolation and alienation, you're not going to find a lot of warm-fuzzies on this release. Put together in phrasing that just begs to be chanted along with while clad in black and pumping your fist in the air, this is about as far from Ibiza as you're going to get.

As mentioned above, although Frontline Assembly has been around for nearly 15 years, they've slowly evolved their sounds to fit with the times. At one point in the past Leeb said that he hated guitars and anything that was part of the rock n roll world (no doubt wanting to embrace everything cold and mechanical that he could for the sound of FLA), the group eventually encorporated those into their sound and with this release the basic pounding industrial music is there as a framework (hard synths, a touch of guitars, vocals that range from growled to sung), but tracks are punctuated with breakbeats and other more experimental rhythm structures without ever throwing things off track.

The tracks on the album that stand out the most are ones that seem to embrace the EBM genre the most. "Dead Planet" (perhaps channeling "One World, One Sky" by Covenant) pounds along with a very dancefloor suitable beat while "Insolence" blends in some lighter sounds synths and huge, pulsing bass hits to nice effect. If you've listened to any amount of industrial music at all, chances are that you've already heard about every variation of mid-tempo, snarling track, and unfortunately several of those make an appearence on this disc as well. Fortunately, Leeb has updated the sonic palate for the group enough that it doesn't feel like you're listening to the same thing over and over. For someone like me (who prefers his side project Delphium much more than rehashing older tracks in FLA), owning this album isn't going to matter one way or another, but for those who are fans of Frontline Assembly, at least it's good to know that he still has a few tricks in the bag.

Rating: 5.5