A new Front Line Assembly album is always a cause for excitement, but was it worth the wait? I have been an on and off fan for many years, with some albums slipping between the cracks while I listened to other genres. However that fun dance/electronic sound of industrial music always brings a smile to my face. Strangely enough it wasn’t FLA’s music that first caught me, but their album covers by artist Dave McKean. I was already a fan of Fear Factory and Machine Head, who had album covers designed my McKean. So I thought I would link my love of music with my art project, from there I discovered other bands who had his art work for their album covers. The rest is history!
As it’s been over 6 years since ‘Echogenetic’ was released, discounting last years ‘Warmech’ (which was a soundtrack). Can these industrial pioneers bring another new to the genre that they helped build? Opening with ‘Eye on You’ featuring Robert Görl of DAF, this song has a all the FLA elements you want. Foot tapping beats, a flowing rhythm and a hypnotic chorus of “Stop Watching” that carries you through the song. The emphasis seems to be on ‘big brother’ watching you in its many forms, which is illustrated in the songs video (released in November).
‘Arbeit’ is an up tempo track, which I could imagine doing well in the clubs. It feels nostalgic with its 90s vibe, as it bounces along happily. While breaking off into euphoria mid song, which almost had me thinking of Jean-Michel Jarre’s ‘Oxygen’.
Jimmy Urine/James Euringer is best known as the co-founder and frontman of Mindless Self Indulgence, his unique and distinctive vocals add a humorous feel to many songs. Most recently his cover of Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ on last years album ‘Euringer’. So I was surprised to discover him doing a cover of Falco’s 1986 no.1 hit song ‘Rock Me Amadeus’. The song takes on a new image/visage in FLA and Jimmy’s hands, it is a superb mix.
‘Tilt’ brings us back to more traditional FLA territory, with Leeb’s vocal distortion and synths. It has a dark undertone, which is also captured in the lyrics. It gave me a vision of a post apocalyptic world, as the earth had been scorched by war.
The mood is brought to a more emotional level with ‘Hatevol’ (the words hate and love combined), showcasing the fine line between love and hate. The heavy beats transcend into a mesmerizing flow, which allowed the song mix to really grab me. With the chorus “I feel love, I feel hate, I feel your skin penetrate” also making it catchy.
With an intro that reminded me of the movie Tron, in its structure. ‘Proximity’ opens into layers of synth and electronic drum beats that build a solid base for a groovy song. The heavy beat/base line that transform into a vast array of beautiful melodies, which had me nodding my head along.
‘Living A Lie’ had a new sound, and a underlying tune that I just couldn’t quite place. This cognitive sound mix meshed up well on this uptempo number, which I just love. The chorus also grabbed me “I’m making love to an Alien, Who’s not from this world, I’m making love to an Alien, I thought you were a girl”. It’s catchy and dance floor worthy on so many levels.
The album title track ‘Wake Up the Coma’‘ features Nick Holmes, of Paradise Lost/Bloodbath on vocals. Paradise have done electronic albums in the past, most notably ‘Host’. His harmonious vocals weave with the synths, as well as tiny amount of his screaming over guitars. Holmes’ voice work faultlessly on this electric playing field, as the melodies and lighter pace of the song adds another dimension to the album.
‘Mesmerized’ takes us back to dark tempos and underlying beats. With the roars of electronics, twisted in and out. This is an unmistakable FLA sound, which could be because Fulber is back in the fold.
The beats are turned down with ‘Negative Territory’, with soft soothing vocals that are actually beautiful with the melodies. Leeb’s voice is harmonious in a way I have never heard before, showing that after all these years FLA still have something fresh to try. Their ability to experiment and test boundaries is fantastic.
Returning with a more familiar style; ‘Structures’ has a good beat, that runs along throughout. I really enjoyed the electronic base line, as it felt almost like it had an 80’s vibe. With it’s electronic drum breakdowns and light synth pop melody tying it together.
Bringing the album to a close is ‘Spitting Wind’ featuring Chris Connelly of Revolting Cocks/Ministry to name but a few. His vocals have a David Bowie/Kristoff Rygg (Ulver) feel that I was not expecting. It is a slow track that winds down the album well, the electronics are not overpowering. With guitar and bare boned beats, that allow the vocals to really take centre stage.
So if you couldn’t already tell, I enjoyed the album and the many twists and turns it took. FLA have such a vast back catalogue, that it must be hard to keep the creativity flowing. That is why I was happily surprised to get a constructive mix of old and new on the album. They prove yet again that they are able to develop and evolve new sounds, hopefully they will get some new fans with this album.