Front Line Assembly
Mechanical Soul


3.4
great

Review

by Raul Stanciu STAFF
January 16th, 2021 | 16 replies


Release Date: 01/15/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Too safe for its own good

Front Line Assembly started celebrating their 35th year of activity by presenting us a brand new album right away. The group’s line-up was reduced to the core collaborators, Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber for the first time since 1996’s Hard Wired. As the title implies, Mechanical Soul takes the band’s trademark industrial/EBM style into darker corners once more. The two have carefully constructed each track to flawlessly perform akin to a well-oiled machine, whereas Leeb’s vocals are dried out of any emotion and wrapped in multiple effects. The only issue, however, is the lack of dynamics, unpredictable elements or sounds in order to make them essential in FLA’s catalog. At least, Wake up the Coma included different sonic directions that diversified the listening experience.

Overall, Mechanical Soul contains dense structures and tight arrangements, usually relying on a foundation of cyclical, hypnotic beats and sequencers. Highlights include ‘Glass and Leather’, featuring ghastly vocals over pounding rhythms. Luckily, a round of immersive synthesizer layers are added along the way, enriching the hazy atmosphere. Meanwhile, ‘Stifle’ displays some muscle due to Dino Cazares’ guitar contributions, which could have been pushed up front for further impact. Nevertheless, the slightly eerie sound scapes building during the vibrant choruses manage to complement the former’s riffs and leads. Also, ‘Unknown’ blends smooth, club-ready grooves with slightly lighter vibes, followed by ‘New World’, a mid-tempo, Depeche Mode-ish ditty. Compared to other tracks here, the latter is rather subdued and even shyly optimistic for Front Line Assembly. Another interesting moment is the post-apocalyptic closing number, ‘Time Lapse’ which blends psybient arpeggios with ethereal noise and cyborg vocals. It could very well sum the entire idea behind the album and artwork. These are the few surprises this record shares. The remaining cuts fall into a comfortable, perhaps even lethargic state for them at times. Front Line Assembly always maintained exploratory elements during their career, yet lately it seems Fulber and Leeb might need someone to join in and shake things up. The two work great together, these songs are all solid at the very least, still you can’t help thinking they are capable of more. Mechanical Soul is not a disappointment per se, but the artists delivered us an LP too safe for its own good.




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user ratings (16)
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
XyphDryne (3.5)
After 35 years, Front Line Assembly still manages to surprise (a bit)....



Comments:Add a Comment 
insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 16th 2021


5444 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

Good album for hardcore fans, which will probably dig most. However, I'm not sure how much replay value it has.



Stream here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8vVx0aHvHY&list=OLAK5uy_mwHn0MDVv7D42z4oBgamjqe_Jd6wfvMV0

Digging: Gruff Rhys - Seeking New Gods

Toondude10
January 16th 2021


14501 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah that's pretty much the overall feel for this album, safe.



still good stuff on here, but overall I think Coma is better than this

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 16th 2021


5444 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

Coma had some cool highlights, so far I haven't really found a song here that I can listen to multiple times in a row. Still, I hope this one grows more on me.

KevinKC
January 17th 2021


936 Comments


"Too safe for its own good"

This really is a bad sign for an album coming after Wake up the Coma.


insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2021


5444 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

It has a more familiar, aggressive sound overall like previous records done by Leeb with Fulber, but most of what is here you've already heard somewhere in their discography.

KevinKC
January 17th 2021


936 Comments


Dino Cazares' contribution to Stifle is embarrassing.

As long as the guitar was plugged in, anybody in the studio could have written and played that part.

Actually they could very well have taken this from recording sessions of Dino when he was fooling around with his guitar and asked if he was ok with it.




AnimalsAsSummit
January 19th 2021


5574 Comments


This band has been average for years. Their 90s material is where it’s at.

Digging: Dirty Bird - Nigga U 24 It's Time 4 Jazz

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 19th 2021


5444 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

Echogenetic was the strongest of the post 2000 material IMO.

Flugmorph
January 19th 2021


24206 Comments


I prefer IED and Artificial Soldier

Dmax28
January 23rd 2021


872 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Stifle and Glass and Leather were pretty good tracks. The rest didn't leave much of an impression. I didn't even know they had a new album. It's a nice jam for what it is.

Flugmorph
February 2nd 2021


24206 Comments


yeeeeeeeee glass and leather is funky af

Flugmorph
February 2nd 2021


24206 Comments


this album performs a slapping motion upon my cranium, it's quite good, definitely better than coma.

cordwainerbird
February 3rd 2021


1104 Comments


o wow reading all this im not looking forward to listening to this

safe is the last thing i want out of a new fla release

Digging: Suicide - Suicide

naughtcturnal
March 17th 2021


1850 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is pretty cool though I am not at all familiar with this bands music

Digging: Stalaggh - Projekt Terror

hangth3dj
April 9th 2021


95 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Been a long time since I last listened to FLA. I found this a fairly boring listen to be honest, several of the songs just plod along for too long without really going anywhere. When they do create a good atmosphere it never really progresses, builds or changes throughout the song, or indeed the album. Highlights for me are probably Unknown., Stifle & Barbarians - they offered something slightly different. Otherwise this was just a bit too long and monotonous.

Digging: Norther - Mirror of Madness

cordwainerbird
April 9th 2021


1104 Comments


think im still gonna give this a listen. any new FLA is worth a shot - they're one of my all time faves and the fact they're still makin stuff is commendable. Bill Leeb is an unsung hero of electronic music



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