Reviews: Front Line Assembly
Tactical Neural Implant Review
Most Front Line Assembly fans consider TNI the best album. To me, its tied first place with Hard Wired, but that is no insult. TNI is what the soundtrack to Blade Runner should've been. This album is pure Cyber Punk and a work of atmospheric genius. This album is Industrial but, surprisingly for many, very accessible. Front Line Assembly has always made catchy music, but this album contains some of their biggest Ear Worms. The beats aren't particularly hard, the songwriting is catchy and poppy, and you never struggle to find the melody. What makes it Industrial are the complex cybernetic textures, sound effects and synthetic percussion; the level of detail in this album is striking. Additionally, the dark and mournful atmosphere keeps things solemn. I'd recommend this album to anyone looking for Industrial that won't tear their head off and scar them for life. Track-By-Track
- Final Impact: A building, catchy introduction to the album that quickly gets one dancing to its surprisingly cheery chorus (which is contrasted against Leeb's droning, machinelike vocals).
- The Blade: The background music for a Bad Guy Bar. Slow, seductive, subtle and sexual sounds that lure you into relaxing. And then you read the lyrics, which are gorn.
- Mindphaser: High point of the album and FLA's Signature Song. Robocop samples, a Cyber Punk atmosphere and relentlessly catchy melodies that builds towards the dark and forboding finale.
- Remorse: A dark, slow, melodic track that feels like Depeche Mode but in the future. Mournful and moody.
- Bio Mechanic: The album really gets dark here; some scary samples in the background, harsh drumming and yet more Ear Worm melodies which make this track compelling.
- Outcast: The aggression is ramped up; catchy basslines, harsh drumming, sampled guitar and Leeb reverts back to an angry vocal style.
- Gun: A long, dark foreboding intro serves as the suspense-builder; the track then lashes out into a high-speed industrial stomp. This track works better as the climax of the Concept Album then as a song in its own right, however. Still, a pulse-pounding climax.
- Lifeline: Outro track. Probably the only song on the album I don't like at least somewhat. A relaxed, cathartic groove; a less mournful Remorse.
Front Line Assembly have had a long career making Industrial and IndustrialMetal and have always managed to differentiate themselves from their peers by freely incorporating influences from other genres, most notably Breakbeat, Drum 'n Bass and IDM. Their latest album, Improvised.Electronic.Device., is certainly a significant improvement compared to the previous two albums Artificial Soldier (which was overly cheerful and overly breakbeat-filled) and Civilization (which was excessively organic and insufficiently angry). This album is much more metallic than usual; several songs are Industrial Metal and one even contains vocals by Al Jourgensen of Ministry. Overall, the album sounds cybernetic but very dry, it brings to mind lots of wastelands and deserts. Sampling is extensive and the atmospheres are very detailed. Alongside the Industrial Metal, you can hear influences from Ambient and Breakbeat/IDM. So this album is by no means simple. What lets it down is few genuinely striking Ear Worm melodies. There are some, surely, but few that really stick in your head. Also, the basslines (usually Leeb's best area) are less prominent than usual. Additionally, the production is less Record Of Loudness War than Artificial Soldier but still sounds somewhat thin. Finally, the songs of the second half of the album aren't as good as those on the first half. Overall, it is an improvement from the previous two albums, but it isn't another Epitaph, Tactical or Hard Wired. Still, fans of the band will enjoy this album.