Review Summary: Hard Wired does a great job of carrying on from where Millennium ends.
It's rare that you get to witness an artist or band pump out great material for such an enduring amount of time. Sure, Front Line Assembly doesn't have an exceptional discography, but they have had some really stellar albums and, at worst, some decent ones; and that is a difficult thing to maintain. Front Line Assembly is the brain child of one Billy Leeb, and has managed to create a consistent array of music of this sort for nearly 30 years. Originally starting out as a synth player, under the pseudonym Wilhelm Schroeder, in Skinny Puppy, he left the band to pursue other ventures and thus created Front Line Assembly; the project has had countless line up changes and has spawned 14 LPs -- with Hard Wired
being made at a weird time where grunge died, NU-metal was becoming a "thing" and industrial -- especially industrial metal -- was flourishing.
continues to move forward with the additions Millennium
added a year previous; seeing the band's introduction of guitars to add a new aesthetic for the band in the future. Which is what I was saying about the time period, Hard Wired
sits nicely with the stuff bands like Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy and KMFDM were doing at the time. The album has a decent control of electronic dance and trance beats, with an industrial crunch helped by the guitars, it also brings out a raw heaviness to the album. What Front Line Assembly do on here is a little more accessible and less dark than the competition though; tracks like "Re-Birth" and "Modus Operandi" have an upbeat energy with melodic undertones, but one that will crush anything in its way.
The problem with Hard Wired
is that it can occasionally ramble on; fat could be trimmed here and there, despite it only being 10 tracks. "Mortal" is a nice mood setter, but the song overall feels a little lacklustre and pointless, especially when the track in question weighs in at nearly 6 minutes and there isn't much merit to the time given. Another minor problem is a lot of the album's core sound can be a little repetitive and samey at times, which I feel is down to every song being at least 5 1/2 minutes long; if the band trimmed a couple of the tracks down by a minute of two it would have made the album a much more engaging and concise experience.
Having said that, this is still a thoroughly enjoyable album, and one that should definitely be recognized as a highlight in the band's career. If you're a fan of industrial this will certainly bring enjoyment, it just has a tendency not to quit while it's ahead at times.