Review Summary: Front Line Assembly integrates dubstep tendencies into their caustic electro-industrial sound for their debut soundtrack, and the results show that the group is well suited to score a game like AirMech.
The cover of the soundtrack to the real-time strategy game “AirMech” might be a little misleading to Front Line Assembly fans who are unfamiliar with the game itself. While the artwork depicts a Gundam-inspired mecha robot saturated in a weathered and decaying color scheme, the game itself actually has a very bright and cartoonish style. This makes for the general theme of AirMech suiting Front Line Assembly more than the game’s true art direction. Front Line Assembly’s volatile and bleak industrial music is a perfect pair with the concept of giant robotic machinery that dominated a good part of sci-fi culture during the late 90‘s, which coincidentally was the same time the industrial explosion FLA was apart of occurred.
But even if the polished and animated look of the game AirMech wouldn’t seem like the best match for Front Line Assembly’s ever-persistent nihilism, the band actually manages to pull off a score that works. Musically, AirMech could be referred to as an instrumental Front Line Assembly album. The introductions to the pieces here aren’t anything out of the ordinary for the band, or different from what fans would expect from Front Line Assembly’s sound, which consists of rousing cyber beats emerging out of viscerally dark atmospheric ambiance. Being score music, most of the songs are longer than the average FLA song by 2 minutes or so, allowing for the more busy moments in the music to trade off with sequences of droning synths. These atmospheric parts match the idea of mechs, as they are reminiscent of soaring while airborne, and the heavier instances bring to mind intense battle stages between heavy machinery.
AirMech also sees dubstep music elements being incorporated by the band into their sound for the first time in their career. The transitions from FLA’s signature industrial sound to conventional dubstep bass wobbles and drops are very abrupt, and don’t contrast well with each other. This is due to these dubstep occurrences just coming off as generic, stock musical passages without the band’s own stamp on the sound. The dubstep itself doesn’t really work outside of the context of the game either, because with the quick and immediate blows of dubstep drops being as sparse and spasmodic as they are, a more repetitive effect than exciting one is created without the visual aid of the game's action that it was made for to begin with.
Though the new dubstep elements are a bit shaky and not integrated into the music as well as they could be, Front Line Assembly has succeeded in transferring their abrasively haunting brand of electronic music to the field of video game soundtracks very well, providing industrial music with a nostalgic return to scoring the mechanical science fiction themes that they once went hand in hand with in the 90's.
This album literally appeared out of nowhere. I didn't get much advertising at all, as I'm sure you all can imagine. It was a nice surprise, and I'm glad I heard it. I'm a big fan of industrial music like these guys and Skinny Puppy, always sweet to hear new stuff from them. Anyway, hope you all like the review.
Lol, it would be nice if the one person who always goes around and negs all my reviews would actually say something to me about what they don't like, then maybe I could explain or try to fix it. But hey, it's the internet, so I've learned to come to expect this kind of thing.
Well, the last few months they were constantly referring to this stuff on their facbook page, so I saw this coming.
Anyway, I heard a limited amount of this through some previews and I like the EBM-ish sound they are using. I'm not sure, however, whether this can keep my attention since it's not primarily designed to be a proper album.
I'm not gonna lie, a lot of the longer songs on this album can tend to drag at times. This is because these songs are composed in a way that keeps in the same structure as their normal songs, so these can feel like overlong instrumental versions of normal FLA songs, except missing the vocals. Since they're constructed this way, it can be hard to sustain your focus, but I think that this music is thoroughly detailed enough to maintain interest and immersion. It's some fun industrial music, if you're in the mood for that, it should satisfy you.
Yeah, it's good for what it is man, and it's worth a listen just for that reason. Can't really say or rec much about the game itself though. If you're interested in playing an RTS game that's kind of like an animated version of Comand & Conquer, then feel free to look into it.
"Lol, it would be nice if the one person who always goes around and negs all my reviews would actually say something to me about what they don't like, then maybe I could explain or try to fix it. But hey, it's the internet, so I've learned to come to expect this kind of thing."
I totally understand you man. It's so stupid to neg someone just because. At least, give a goddamn reason.
Also, I wanted to review this but I haven't got around to it. The album is really cool because Bill's voice gets kind of monotone at times and it also harkens back to their 2004, Civilization record which is closer to Leeb's other project Delerium. Great review man anyway, pos :D
Thanks for the pos man, and I'm glad you liked the review! Also, you should still review this if you want to dude, my review is most likely going to be the only review this album will receive if you don't lol.
Cool review, man. I like that you're getting more concise with your reviews, and the work you place into it shows. I also like your contrast between the game's music and its accompanying art. Your description of the music itself is top-notch, too - one of your strengths.
Tips to improve this would be 1.) shortening some sentences, and 2.) making the introduction more confident.
1.) There are still some instances where your sentences could/should be shortened a bit:
"Front Line Assembly’s volatile and bleak industrial music is a perfect pair with the concept of giant robotic machinery that dominated a good part of sci-fi culture during the late 90‘s, which coincidentally was the same time the industrial explosion FLA was apart of occurred." you pack a lot into this sentence. If you found a way to split it up some, it'd be easier to follow.
"The introductions to the pieces here aren’t anything out of the ordinary for the band, or different from what fans would expect from Front Line Assembly’s sound, which consists of rousing cyber beats emerging out of viscerally dark atmospheric ambience." I'd say too many descriptors here.
2.) Your music descriptions are spot-on, but the more biographical details feel a bit less natural. Try to make your intro paragraph a bit more conversational, and see what you end up with.