Thursday 11 July 2013

Review: Front Line Assembly – 'Echogenetic'


Front Line Assembly are, for fans of electronic music, a band that needs no introduction. Formed by ex-Skinny Puppy hand Bill Leeb in 1986, FLA have released a string of internationally renowned and acclaimed albums. With an impressive legacy to their name already, each subsequent album becomes a greater challenge to just live up to the rest of the back catalogue.

After the band's last outing, the all instrumental soundtrack 'AirMech', the band feel re-energised and fresh as they re-examine their early 90's sound and reconstruct it with new vigour. Incorporating dubstep-style bass (first heard on the afore mentioned 'AirMech') gives the album an “of the moment” feel, but not one that denotes simply cashing in on the flavour of the month. Instead the band assimilate the sound it into their arsenal so effectively that it fits quite comfortable and even manages to mask the pronounced lack of guitars on the album.

Songs like 'Leveled', 'Killing Ground', the title track 'Echogenetic' and 'Prototype' show the band on top form with strong and complex beats, trippy bass and demented distorted vocals powering them. While tracks like 'Blood', 'Ghosts' and 'Exo' venture into more melancholic and melodic waters to give the album a well-rounded listening experience.

With the band dropping the guitars the album has a much more linear sound than their recent output. The songs are more dance friendly and less manic in their construction. But 'Echogenetic' is by no means diluted by this. With the band's sinister atmospheric electronics heavily upgraded and taking centre stage once more, they present a tantalising prospect for future releases.

The songs are impeccably constructed as they distil nearly two decades of stylistic exploration into each track. Though the vocal delivery and sparse lyrics are at times a little frustrating as they veer from the emotional to the monotonous. But it doesn't detract from the fact that this is a great outing for the band that will serve them well on both dancefloors as well as the live circuit. 'Echogenetic' presents a Front Line Assembly that we haven’t seen for a while, but one that is still very relevant.

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