The first thing you notice about Tactical Neural Implant
is its hooks. And it’s strange, because industrial music was, after all, founded on inaccessibility; experimentation; weirdness. It was music designed to be provocative, sometimes ugly, sometimes even revolting. In fact, Front Line Assembly’s founding member, Bill Leeb, started off his career working with Skinny Puppy
: a group known for their dense, complex, inaccessible music. And it’s not that the music on Tactical Neural Implant
is less intricately composed than that of, say, VIVIsectVI
, but it manages to be infinitely more catchy
. Here you have a set of songs that are equally dissonant and layered as they are striking and memorable; and not only that, but there’s not a bad moment from front to back.
While Tactical Neural Implant
retains the aggression of Front Line Assembly’s previous album, Caustic Grip
, its overall character is far more dark and moody than that of its predecessor. The production is also much more dense and layered, but not muddy; rather, the layers present themselves in a way that is both subtle and crystal-clear. There’s a great deal of complexity and intricacy to the album, and yet it demonstrates restraint when it needs to, with labyrinthine developmental sections leading seamlessly into simple, hard-hitting choruses. Most significant is how the album manages to walk the line perfectly between variety and consistency: every song has its own distinct feel and personality, and yet no song is an outlier, each one presenting the same compelling combination of powerful beats, sinister synthesizers and anthemic melodies.
With Tactical Neural Implant
, Front Line Assembly solidified themselves as one of the greatest industrial acts of all time. The album perfectly demonstrates the band’s skill in crafting complex, engaging arrangements, and yet is also uncannily accessible for a work of its calibre. While an album like Skinny Puppy’s Too Dark Park
or Last Rights
may be at first too intimidating and dense for industrial newbies, there is no such problem present in Tactical Neural implant
. I would thus give this my highest recommendation to anyone looking to get into industrial music; while it is one of the genre’s most accomplished albums, it’s also as good a starting point as any.