Front Line Assembly: Echogenetic – album review

Front Line Assembly ‘Echogenetic’ (Dependent Records)
Released 7th September 2013

The whole formulaic nature of Electronic/Industrial music has spawned some truly dreadful, bargain-binned items for too many years than I care to remember. A few quick-fire lines of sequences, rampant gutteral vocals and then just to add to the mundane, oh let’s put some metal riffs in there as well. Switch off time. Not that many bands have continually held my interest in this area but Bill Leeb with his heritage of knowledge has in the main offered hope in the club-plague-pit of electronics. And to make things more interesting his latest ‘Echogenetic’ deserves a closer inspection for the fact it’s his first all-electronic Front Line Assembly output since Tactical Neural Implant.

Easily referenced is the link between, say Portion Control’s ‘I Staggered Mentally’ and FLA’s finest attack, the forever-rewarding onslaught of ‘Caustic Grip’, so another two decades on where does his new technological arsenal take us? Well, I must admit, first airing was pleasurable with its broad complexity of arrangements but with the sparking brutality of pre-Tactical material tempered it was just that, a highly crafted, expertly-honed musical experience. Should I REALLY expect more? After two, three, four complete revolutions the rich textured hybrid of electronic sounds begin to yield some real volativity. There are nods to past FLA detuned to pseudo-commercial radio-plays such as ‘Exhale’ and ‘Ghosts’. ‘Killing Ground’ forges familiar sequences with stuttering bows to The Prodigy (Bill and Liam, now that would be a duo worth paying to see) and on ‘Deadened’ electro twists with an added Ebbism. ‘Prototype’ almost has an Autechre-like quality around it’s percussive structures; an instrumental with an abrasive core leading to the anthemic finality of ‘Heartquake’.

Echogenetic, whilst being an ‘immediate’ listen is one which subsequently sheds its polished underbelly with time spent. I’d have possibly liked to hear the vocals growing louder from the mix, at times they were far too smooth, but on the whole this is an album created by a master of machines. Thankfully Bill Leeb has never been an artist who merely uses technology with a manual. Caustic Grip it is not, though I certainly would not want it to be. If an artist has to go back and rehash an album of two decades previous there really is no point. Here you can add your own list of electronic musicians who have and continue to do just that.


1. Resonance
2. Leveled
3. Killing Grounds
4. Blood
5. Deadened
6. Ghosts
7. Echogenetic
8. Exhale
9. Exo
10. Prototype
11. Heartquake

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