A lot of different stuff comes out of Vancouver- from the radio-ready pop rock of Hedley to the manic experimental metal of Devin Townsend and Strapping Young Lad and industrial acts like Skinny Puppy and Front Line Assembly. The latter of those two has been around for 35 years now and shows no signs of quitting any time soon, evidenced by the fact they just released a new album. Mechanical Soul is the title, and its contents are every bit as mechanical yet darker than its title would suggest.
Take the first track, the mood-setter: “Purge” throws the listener for an ominous, unsettling (literal) loop, while “Glass And Leather” pounds and broods, opening the gates to slip into an altered, electro-auditory state of consciousness with the sinister “Unknown”. “New World” is a bit lighter sonically, though just as hypnotic and focused on sci-fi motifs as the rest of the album. “Rubber Tube Gag” drags things back into the dark and “Stifle” drags them out for a slow, yet busy crawl, the fragmented cohesion continuing in the mid-tempo hammering of “Alone”. The live drums of “Barbarians” provides a bit of a dynamic shift, short-lived as the Germanically-influenced “Komm, Stribt Mit Mir” reverses course. There is a bit of a reprieve in “Time Lapse” that builds into an atmospheric bliss, eventually giving way to the Black Asteroid mix of Front Line’s song “Hatevol” off of Wake Up The Coma to close things out.
Mechanical Soul is run-of-the-mill for Front Line Assembly without the negative connotations that usually come with that phrase; i.e the same stuff, uncreative, lacking innovation, etc. The material doesn’t go much beyond standard issue, for sure, but it’s solid and fresh-sounding enough to where it sounds respectable, not like some records where it sounds like not a single bit of effort was put into it. For what breaking the bounds there is on this record, let that be the ground to build on for the next time around and let the foundations laid out here and in many years and records before remain the basis of future creation, but by no means the ceiling on it. In other words, well done, now do even more.