Front Line Assembly

Artificial Soldier

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With 2004's Civilization, the reunited Front Line Assembly -- as in longtime member Rhys Fulber returned -- sounded anxious to get back to their gritty electro-industrial roots, but cautious and too willing to rely on the serene sound of their successful side project Delerium. While Delerium's attention to detail is here, none of the preciousness is, and this ferocious album seems all the less schizophrenic because of it. Strategically, 2006's Artificial Soldier is right in line with their great 1992 album Tactical Neural Implant while musically it's a much more elaborate effort with layers of synths, stabs from guitars, and eerie landscapes that stretch as far as the ear can hear. Key track "Buried Alive" aggressively puts this all together while adding a bit of techno act Prodigy's aggressive drive into the mix. Vocalists Eskil Simonsson (from Covenant) and Jean-Luc de Meyer from (Front 242) make guest appearances, offering relief from member Bill Leeb's urgent delivery and apocalyptic lyrics, which aren't nearly as inspired as the music. If Leeb's words are formulaic, it won't matter much to fans craving a return to form. Artificial Soldier is a return to form monster of an album that will pound the band back into the electro-industrial lover's heart.

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