Genre/Influences: EBM, Industrial.
Format: Digital, CD, Vinyl.
Background/Info: Frontline Assembly this year celebrates their 35 (!) anniversary. A very good reason for Bill Leeb and Rhys Fülber to release a new album; just the two of them! “Mechanical Soul” is the band’s seventeenth studio full-length. The work has been mixed by Chris Liebing.
Content: “Mechanical Soul” is an album where the fans will recognize the main ingredients that made this Canadian formation one of the uncontested leaders of EBM. The songs are driven by solid bass lines and driven by danceable rhythms. The writing remains sophisticated, mixing aggressive passages together with dense electronic atmospheres. Bill Leeb’s spooky timbre of voice injects an extra dark touch to the work. The song “Stifle” is featuring guitar parts by Dino Cazares (Fear Factory) while another surprising guest is Front 242’s Jean-Luc Demeyer singing on “Barbarians”. This song is a reworked edit of “Future Fail”, which originally appeared on “Artificial Soldier” (2006) on, which Jean-Luc was already singing. Last, but not least we also get a remix of “Hatevol” by Black Asteroid. The original edit of this song was featured at the previous album “Wake Up The Coma” (2019).
+ + + : FLA remains a kind of sonic lab for sophisticated, intelligent Electronic music. Somewhere in between good-old EBM (especially for some of the bass lines), Industrial music (for some of the sound treatments) and Ambient atmospheres, this work sounds a bit as summarizing the band’s history. The songs are meticulously crafted and creating a right balance with Leeb’s unique way of singing. I prefer the ‘harder’ cuts of the album like “Unknown” and “Komm, Stirbt Mit Mir” (sung in German). “Glass And Leather” is one of the most elaborated tracks reminding us of the genius of this formation, but also their very own sound DNA. There’s also something to say about “Barbarians” with great guest vocals by Front 242. But the best track, according to me, is the Industrial-Techno & Minimal-driven remix of “Hatevol” by Black Asteroid.
– – – : When you consider the impressive career and discography of FLA, this new work will definitely not enter into history as the band’s masterpiece. It’s maybe missing a bit of power here and then while none of the tracks really sound like an absolute new master hit! I also have a problem when my favorite song of the album is a remix by another formation.
Conclusion: Frontline Assembly hasn’t released their best work to date, but they simply did what we expect from them; releasing an accomplished work with some cool songs and a few little extras thanks to Jean-Luc Demeyer and “Stifle”. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll not be disappointed!
Best songs: “Hatevol – Black Asteroid Mix”, “Glass And Leather”, “Unknown”, “Komm, Stirbt Mit Mir”, “Alone”, “Barbarians”.