Front 242

Official Version

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On this amazing album, Front 242 came into its own, its brutal electrobeat now helping to fully define industrial in the broadest sense of the term. Daniel B and Codenys together whip out a series of chilling but always just danceable enough full body slams, showing an increased depth and sophistication in the overall arrangements, while 23 and de Meyer deliver their shouted and emotionless vocals with the force of full command. When the two share their vocals via traded-off lines or, often, simultaneous singing, the contrast between 23's slightly more breathless and de Meyer's sterner approach increases the overall appeal. The band's ear for vivisection by sampling reaches new heights: endless series of cries, random words, and more are looped and tweaked throughout nearly every song, a good example being the title word on "Aggressiva Due." Meanwhile, the sampled televangelist on "Angst" clearly paves the way for "Welcome to Paradise" a few years in the future. The two peaks of the album are its singles, both of which showcase equally gripping approaches. "Masterhit," appearing in its full seven minute version, is a full-on dancefloor monster, with a weirdly pretty chorus that makes it even more striking and memorable. "Quite Unusual," meanwhile, combines an almost quizzical lyrical portrait of a cryptic (romantic?) situation with a cinematic synth arrangement and the ever important pounding beat, varied at numerous points for even greater effect. At points on Official Version one can still hear the hints of the band's calmer start -- both "Television Station" and "Rerun Time" have instrumental breaks that Depeche Mode wouldn't have found out of place in 1984 -- but otherwise all is brusque yet chilly energy. The random metal guitar samples in said tune aren't quite up to the level of the Young Gods, but they're cool regardless. The 1992 reissue makes a great album even better with four fine bonus cuts, including an alternate take of "Quite Unusual." The two remixes of "Masterhit," "Masterblaster" and "Hypnomix," are both fine examples of the art, especially the former.

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