Today's artists are the best known of the various electronic music projects undertaken by the prolific Vancouver-based duo of Bill Leeb (vocals, synthesizers) and Rhys Fulber (synthesizers, samplers). After working in the mid-'80s under the pseudonym Wilhelm Schroeder with Skinny Puppy, the Austrian-born Leeb formed the industrial/techno-based Front Line Assembly in 1986 with Fulber -- who initially joined on as a studio assistant -- and synth player Michael Balch. . ....N'Joy
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Between 1985 and 1986, Bill Leeb supported Skinny Puppy under the name Wilhelm Schroeder. Wilhelm is Leeb's real first name while Schroeder stems from the Peanuts character of the same name and was meant as a joke. "I think the fact that we didn't have any musical training, gave us free range", he said, "The words 'experimental electronic music' really come to mind as to how we did that." Leeb contributed bass synth and backing vocals for several tracks while also supporting their 1985 tour. His drug experiences at the time, though Leeb felt no need to repeat it at later times, added to his creativity. "You can always draw from that experience of when you were there and what the ambiance and the feeling was like. It's not like you need to go there every year to recapture that moment.", Leeb stated. Since Leeb did not want to continue with the next tour, splitting up with Skinny Puppy was imminent.
Contacts in the music scene he had gathered while with Skinny Puppy facilitated the advancement of his own project, leading to contract offers from the first two labels that Leeb later approached with cassettes. Leeb appreciated that Skinny Puppy would cast a long shadow over his own musical efforts after leaving the band. "Sometimes, you break away from a band, and the band has such a strong image that you're always going to be forever compared to those guys," Leeb said, "I knew it was a big risk because the band was already taking off and stuff, but I think it was all for the best. The name of his new band reflects Leebs view of the world at the time. "The name came to me from just hearing people's struggles all over the world on the news all the time", he revealed after the formation of Front Line Assembly, "The only way people can fight back is to assemble in groups. We are fed so much information through the media that no one knows what to believe anymore. So Front Line Assembly means fighting the communications war."
The band debuted its first album The Initial Command with credited assistance by Fulber and Michael Balch on Belgian independent record label KK at the end of 1987. The album had been produced on a tight budget which would determine whether or not cuts would be done with an eight track system or split into two four track cuts. With the next album State of Mind, released in January 1988, the band switched to German independent label Dossier. Having assumed producing and mixing duties before, Balch emerged as official band member in 1988 and began writing songs alongside Leeb for the next few albums. Balch mostly contributed by providing keyboards and programming. As Leeb put it, "I would write the songs, and he was really good with the software." This partnership produced the releases Corrosion and Disorder. Originally planned to be issued on Canadian label Nettwerk, which ultimately failed "because of politics and the previous Skinny Puppy relationship", both records mark the beginning of the cooperation with Third Mind in 1988.
The change in labels for the first few releases before finally sticking with Third Mind was a deliberate choice. Adhering to Third Mind for Europe and Wax Trax! for North America made Front Line Assembly releases significantly more available. According to Leeb, this arrangement "worked out much better as far as distribution and promotion. Third Mind is getting very good distribution in Europe." Being signed to Third Mind also helped catching the attention of established music magazines such as Melody Maker or NME.
Front Line Assembly produced their next album Gashed Senses & Crossfire in 1989. This album introduced their first single Digital Tension Dementia which became their first chart success and peaked at position 45 of the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart. Fueled by growing success and in support of their latest release, the band, together with Rhys Fulber as live metal percussionist, headed out to Europe and North America for their first tour which were met "with rave reviews for F.L.A.'s powerful live act." For Balch it was also the last Front Line Assembly tour since he parted ways to join Ministry and Revolting Cocks.
Filling the void, Rhys Fulber officially joined, "a natural progression", according to Leeb, which changed the working routine in the band. "The working situation in the band is a lot different because Rhys is working with me on everything, and his taste runs more into electronic music, just like me", said Leeb, noting that Fulber was "a lot more fun to work with." The duo recorded their next album, Caustic Grip, in the first half of 1990. Accompanied by the release of two singles in 1990, Iceolate and Provision, the album raised Front Line Assembly's profile in the industrial music scene and in the media considerably. The tour in support of the album started in January 1991 in the United States to be followed by a European leg in February which was accompanied by the release of stand-alone single Virus the same month. Chris Peterson, who would later become a full-time member of Front Line Assembly, gave his debut for the band on this tour, completing the live line-up as percussionist.
In 1992, Front Line Assembly reached a turning point in the band's musical style with the album Tactical Neural Implant. The media commented particularly on the more melodious approach featured on the album and noted the use of multi-layered sounds which would become a trademark of the band. The video for the first single off the album, Mindphaser, was awarded "Best Alternative Video" at Much Music's 1992 Canadian Music Video Awards. In August 1992, Front Line Assembly embarked on a tour that covered Northern America and Europe. The album is played in industrial and electronic music dance clubs to this day and considered a classic among listeners and musicians of industrial music. The next album Millennium (1994) featured a combination of metal guitars, electronic music, and media sampling (much of which was taken from the Michael Douglas film Falling Down) which had become one of the characteristics of industrial rock and industrial metal during the 1990s.
Hard Wired (1995) and the world tour following the release was FLA's most successful commercial and critical period.
In 1997, Fulber left the band to concentrate on producing Fear Factory along with other bands. Chris Peterson, who had already supported the band's live shows, replaced Fulber. Soon after Fulber quit, the 1997 album [FLA]vour of the Weak was released. Yet again, the album was stylistically divergent from previous releases. The metal influences found in Millennium gave way to a more electronica sound within the new release. Front Line Assembly made somewhat of a return to their former sound with the album Implode (1999), followed by Epitaph (2001), as well as half of the soundtrack for the video game Quake III Arena in 1999. Chris Peterson left FLA in 2002. Through most of that year it was rumoured that the band had essentially broken up.
Rhys Fulber rejoined the band in 2003. The reunited duo released the single Maniacal in October of that same year, launching a new phase in the band's career. The next year, they released the studio album Civilization. Chris Peterson later rejoined the band to release Artificial Soldier in 2006. The following tour was cut short due to a problem with the company supplying the tour bus. The band acknowledged that they were returning home to Vancouver earlier than planned after playing roughly half of their scheduled tour in the United States (dates in New York and Canada were canceled). The band toured in Europe in August 2006 covering 18 cities.
In April 2007, Front Line Assembly released a remix album titled Fallout. The album was released in a 4-panel digipak and featured three previously unreleased tracks ("Electric Dreams," "Unconscious," and "Armageddon") and nine remixes by several other Industrial acts and names. After the release of the remix album, the band went out to tour North America and Europe. In 2010, Front Line Assembly, with new members Jeremy Inkel and Jared Slingerland, released a new single, Shifting Through the Lens, and album, Improvised Electronic Device.
As described on Dependent Records' website, the album is described as "stronger and more danceable" when compared to immediately previous releases. "Angriff", the second single from the album, is further described as "wandering on metal paths reminiscent of Rammstein and their own Millenium album." In 2012, Leeb mentioned that a new album will be completed by the end of the year, though no official announcement or tour date has been released.
Having integrated guitars into their sound since the late 1980s, either sampled or as live guitars, FLA set the stage in 2012 for the return to an exclusively electronic soundscape. This change could be heard when the band released the soundtrack album AirMech for the video game of the same name at the end of 2012. Comprising only instrumental tracks, AirMech laid some grounds for 2013 full-length album Echogenetic, as Bill Leeb recalls in an interview with Rock Sins: "I guess this sound of this record maybe it started pretty much with the record we did prior called AirMech." Echogenetic was widely praised by critics, who also noted the dubstep influences on the record, and hit the charts in the United States and in Germany. Entering the official German charts was a first in the band's history. On the occasion of the release of Echogenetic Front Line Assembly announced a remix album which was released in May 2014 under the moniker of Echoes.
Resuming tour activities, the band gave a number of concerts in September and November 2015. They started off with a show in Vancouver and went on to headline the second day of the fourth run of the Cold Waves industrial festival in Chicago. In November they followed up with their first ever show in Mexico City, supported by Mexican electro-industrial band Hocico, and a gig in Guadalajara both of which were also supported by Canadian electro-industrial group Decoded Feedback.
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Corroded Disorder is a blend of 2 albums from 1988. Some very good songs here : 'Body Count', which is an anticipation of what was to come, 'Concussion', 'Lurid Sensation', which is a quite original EBM song (maybe the only song in which Leeb's voice leaves his usual deep voice for a moment: a scream), 'Obsession', quite 242ish, 'The Wrack', which sounds as if Kraftwerk's 'Man Machine' was filtered through a liquidizer, 'Headcase Fargone', with a quite weird bass beginning, This album has also Deleriumesque songs ('On the cross'), you know, instrumental songs with almost no beat and full of samples. The only songs which sound a bit out of place are the first 2, unsurprisingly these are from 1992 and should have been left off.
To sum up, 'Corroded Disorder' is maybe the best album from the earlier ones, the first in which Delerium elements are less obvious and typical FLA hardbeat songs are protagonists. In absolute terms, this album is not amazing and in a way sounds primitive (having in mind the limited equipment at the time), but if you pay attention to the songs you'll perceive more and more details and the brilliancy of the atmospheres created by Leeb, Balch and Fulber.
Front Line Assembly - Corroded + Disorder (flac 508mb)
01 Mutate 5:42
02 Teardown 4:36
03 Lurid Sensation 4:05
04 Right Hand Of Heaven 5:46
05 Concussion 4:14
06 On The Cross 5:49
07 Controversy 5:20
08 Dark Dreams 6:05
09 Body Count 4:15
10 Obsession 4:07
11 Aggression 4:55
12 Diesect 4:38
13 The Wrack 3:26
14 Solitude Of Confinement 6:37
15 Collision 4:28
16 Headcase Fargone 4:47
Front Line Assembly - Corroded + Disorder (ogg 187mb)
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Often cited as Front Line Assembly's best album, 1989's Gashed Senses & Crossfire saw the Austro-Canadian ensemble fulfilling the underground promise of their early releases and riding the very crest of the industrial music tidal wave as it broke over the entire planet. The album may not have enjoyed the same sort of watershed sales or mainstream recognition as KMFDM's and Ministry's concurrent releases, but the creative versatility displayed by collaborators Bill Leeb, Michael Balch, and unofficial member Rhys Fulber, was truly second to none. In fact, it was precisely that eclecticism that made the album so challenging and less commercially successful, yet ultimately fulfilling, as listeners were forced to contend with acerbic dance numbers ("No Limit," "Digital Tension Dementia," etc.), hypnotic metal machine music ("Antisocial" "Bloodsport"), and hauntingly ethereal meditations ("Prayer," "Sedation") alike, without discrimination. In the end, the key elements binding all of these disparate constructions together were the atonal croaks and croons that passed for vocals, and Front Line Assembly's formidable production talents, which brought meticulous detail to the inordinate number of instrumental layers stacked within, and the innumerable sonic artifacts that peppered them with surprises. In short: a triumph of man, machine, and music. Notably, Gashed Senses & Crossfire was also the final FLA album to feature founding partner Michael Balch, who was replaced full-time by future electro-metal producer Rhys Fulber for the following year's Caustic Grip.
Front Line Assembly - Gashed Senses And Crossfire (flac 277mb)
01 No Limit 4:53
02 Antisocial 4:31
03 Hypocrisy 3:48
04 Shutdown 5:24
05 Prayer 3:29
06 Digital Tension Dementia 4:46
07 Big Money 4:15
08 Bloodsport 5:55
09 Foolsgame 3:36
10 Sedation 3:56
Front Line Assembly - Gashed Senses And Crossfire (ogg 110mb)
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Front Line Assembly displayed an efficiency befitting of their music's machine-like nature when co-founder Michael Balch stepped aside in 1990 and part-time member Rhys Fulber seamlessly took his place beside Bill Leeb beginning with 1990's Caustic Grip album. Fulber's timing was also propitious in the sense that the previous year's Gashed Senses & Crossfire had exposed FLA to a larger audience and set the stage for their newly minted production team to operate its magic with utmost precision and multi-layered attention to detail on the eminent follow-up. The eye-opening results can be sampled in the infernal dance grooves and hyperactive beats energizing tracks like "Resist," "Overkill," and "Force Fed" (all of them sounding like Depeche Mode's worst nightmare), and yet their processed whispers and rasps weren't nearly as frightening as Leeb's serial killer croak on "Victim." On the other hand, he actually came close to singing for the first time on the abnormally sedate "Threshold," and the ratio of synthesized melodies per beat was shifted ever so slightly for the benefit of singles "Provision" and "Iceolate" -- the latter even receiving the benefit of a music video and modest MTV rotations to support it. Above all else, perhaps, Caustic Grip helped Front Line Assembly make a definitive break from Leeb's previous legendary group, Skinny Puppy, by solidifying their standing as one of the most essential industrial groups of the '90s.
Front Line Assembly - Caustic Grip (flac 358mb)
01 Resist 5:25
02 Victim 5:06
03 Overkill 5:23
04 Forge 4:21
05 Provision 6:09
06 Force Fed 4:41
07 Iceolate 5:13
08 Threshold 5:11
09 Mental Distortion 6:50
10 The Chair 3:26
Front Line Assembly - Caustic Grip (ogg 130mb)
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Front Line Assembly - Front Line Assembly - EP's 88-90 (flac 468mb)
01 Digital Tension Dementia (remix)7:15
02 Vexation 8:23
03 Big Money (Remix) 4:15
04 No Limit (Damaged Goods Remix) 7:38
05 Lethal Compound (Harmful If Swallowed Mix) 11:08
06 No Limit (Spontaneous Combustion Mix) 5:27
07 Iceolate (remix) 6:30
08 Mental Distortion 6:50
09 Iceolate (Dub Mix) 4:59
10 Provision (remix) 6:28
11 Overkill (Surge Mix) 6:33
Front Line Assembly - Front Line Assembly - EP's 88-90 (ogg 188mb)
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