Front Line Assembly (FLA) is a Electro-industrial band from Canada that was formed 25 years ago by Bill Leeb after he left Skinny Puppy. Improvised Electronic Device (I.E.D.) is the band's 15th album in their 25 year history, and has been called "stronger and more danceable" than previous releases – I tend to agree.
The album starts off with the title track, a slow building song that sets the tone for what's to come. Driving beats and guitars come in about mid-way and won't let go. The second song, "Angriff", almost feels as if it's a similar song to "I.E.D.", but it's very deceiving, sneaky, and pounces on you when you least expect it with its crunchy guitar and hard hitting drums. This song reminds one of Rammstein or KMFDM. What's interesting is that the chorus of "Angriff" is in German, which makes the tie-in to Rammstein even more tighter. As I understand it, this song is inspired by the band's time in Russia.
"Hostage" and "Laws of Deception" are probably the most political tracks on the album, but each is a little different in their sound. "Hostage" is about oil and the wars that are fought over it and it also returns FLA to the industrial/dance clubs with the electronic sound. This is a song that gets the glow sticks out, and has dancers all over the floor. However, "Laws Of Deception" is a much more industrial political song, one which an army would chant the lyrics: "Laws of Deception, Laws Of Control, Laws to crush people down below…"
"Release" is a track that reminds me a lot of an old FLA song, "Bio-Mechanic" from their "Tactical Neural Implant" album and it has a nice guitar infused chorus that will make you want to head bang.
The first single off the album, "Shifting Through The Lens" is another dance club song that will bring the bodies to the floor. It starts of with a recognizable intro and leaps into a dance beat that should have the dance floor packed by the time it hits 2 minutes into the song. "Pressure Wave" continues the crunchy industrial sound, will have the moshers taking over the club and providing the pressure along the dance floor.
FLA slows things down for "AfterLife" by asking, "What are we fighting for?" throughout the song. This song is a good candidate for a movie soundtrack, perhaps during the end credits of a movie like Terminator? This song is inspired by the death of the father of Bill Leeb, the founder and longest member of FLA. Bill searched for his father for twenty years before he found him, and he passed away only two months after his search was over.
The last of the hard driving industrial tracks on the album is "Stupidity," and it features vocals from Al Jourgensen of Ministry – which is an interesting tie-in, as a former member of FLA, Michael Balch, went on to join Ministry back in the early 90's. "Stupidity" has the listener constantly comparing it to a Ministry song, and Al singing doesn't help it at all. FLA has the guitars in Ministry fashion on this song right from the start and could be a great tune to play when hitting 100mph on any highway – Would go right along with the name of the song!
"Downfall" is maybe my least favorite track on the album. It starts off slow, which after a song like Stupidity, it's like slamming on the brakes driving 100mph on a highway! This song does provide a fine ending to the great album though, even when at the very end of "Downfall" where a seemingly commercial announcer proclaims "Goodbye".
Overall this album is a must for any Front Line Assembly fan, it provides a great mix of dance, industrial, and even some down-tempo mix with "Downfall".
If you would like to hear more from Front Line Assembly, I will be interviewing Bill Leeb during my live show on BounceRadio.net at 9pm ET – Feel free to join us in the chat room and throw out some questions for Bill! In case you miss the live stream, this show will also be later available as a podcast download at Zaldor.com.