Artist: Front Line Assembly
Release Date: 22nd June 2018
Label: Artoffact Records
This album is in several ways special. First and foremost, it’s the last FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY album which features Jeremy Inkel, who tragically passed away at the age of 34 in January 2018. We will see how this loss is going to impact on the band, ‘WarMech’ however is the last album with his stamp all over it. Furthermore, ‘WarMech’ is no standard FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY album as it is, as you might already know, the soundtrack for the multiplayer online battle game ‘AirMech: Wastelands’, developed and published by Carbon Games. The video game is the follow-up of the successful original ‘AirMech’, which was released in 2012 and also enrolled FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY for producing the soundtrack. It was the first time that the band around mastermind Bill Leeb was solely responsible for producing the score of a game but not FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY’s first stint into the world of computer games. In the year 2000 they already provided a few tracks for ‘Quake III: Team Arena’ and shared music production duties with SONIC MAYHEM.
So, as ‘WarMech’ is a different kind of FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY you shouldn’t expect standard FLA, of course. No hard-hitting Industrial/ EBM which works so well both on the dancefloor and at live gigs. No epic, dark Industrial ballads which FLA have mastered for decades already - just think of songs like ‘Threshold’, ‘Lifelines’, ‘Infra Red Combat’ or, more recently, ‘Blood’. Although sonically there are more than just a few traces of the said dark epicenes but ‘WarMech’ is, as you guessed, an instrumental album and not so much song-orientated. Bill Leeb has refined his knack for dark, ambient soundscapes with his side project DELERIUM, which started 1987 with dystopian, droning Industrial ambient for the darkest hours of the night and which slowly evolved to a chart topping ethereal Pop project with various guest vocalists. Of course there’s also the SYNASETHESIA project, which continued the path of dark tribal ambient sounds when DELERIUM rather turned into a mainstream act.
So there’s a multitude of experience Bill Leeb gathered with FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY and his numerous side projects, which also includes the more techno-ish tracks of NOISE UNIT among even more little offspins. With ‘WarMech’ all those elements boil down to a stunning piece of music which is not just perfect for the mentioned video game but also for your head movies in front of your inner eye. If you prefer dark sci-fi head movies, that is! It is hard to emphasize single tracks, as ‘WarMech’ is more like 73-minute sound trip. The mind journey starts with the dreamy ‘Mechvirus’, which culminates in a relatively sweet synth line, and from the stomping ‘Heatmap’ to the introspective ‘The Eminent’ to the climax of the gentle piano touches of ‘Creator’, the closing song, it’s a hell of a ride. The whole album just ebbs and flows, as does every single track, and you hardly notice where one track ends and the next one begins. Anyone who is sceptic that such a soundtrack piece might not work outside the game context may ease. As much as ‘WarMech’ (and its ancestor ‘AirMech’, for that matter) may stand out in the FLA discography, it still has the hard-nosed intensity Bill Leeb is known for. The wobbling bass lines and all the synth wizardry is all there, they just serve a different purpose this time. And if you bet that the Dub Step which are littered over quite a few tracks were Jeremy Inkel’s handwriting you might be quite spot on. It will be interesting, albeit in a tragic way, how FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY’s next studio album will sound without his input.
Fans of FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY probably prefer the harsh, stomping Industrial dance songs with Leeb’s vocals, which regular FLA releases offer in abundance. You probably don’t have to wait too long for your dose of this but ‘WarMech’ should be in any fan’s collection, anyway. Post-apocalyptic sci-fi themes and FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY have always been a perfect match and ‘WarMech’ distils the essence of that marriage. The album is also available on vinyl.
04. The Imminent
05. Force Carrier
08. Rip Sensor
09. The Eminent
http://www.mindphaser.com / https://www.facebook.com/frontlineassembly
Total: 8.5 / 10