Tuesday, July 7, 2020
«« »»
Title: Artificial Soldier
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis Records (@)
Distributor: SPV
Rated: *****
FRONT LINE are back, now mutated to a four-men super act. Bill Leeb could add next to Rhys Fulber his other partner in crime, Chris Petersen, and the new band member Jeremy Inkel. The info sheet promised a lot regarding the quality and that "FLA will pass all expectations". Well, to say it in short, this Artificial Soldier can not at all be called that outstanding, it is more a mixture of already known elements and earlier presented styles in the long time career. Think about a combination of "Hard Wired" and "Epitaph" flavored with some D ’n’ B elements and you may got an idea how it is. That also means, that the more melodious coarse presented with "Civilization" has found a sudden end, the new stuff is more energetic and harder constructed. This is maybe for one or another fan a good new info, but I miss some of their typical fat synth layers on this new album generally – their bombastic melodic input on Artificial Soldier is more reduced, but with respect to a few exceptions. So it took a while until found completely entrance to this album. The opener "Unleashed" is one of the best tracks here, featuring all the mentioned elements with Bill’s typical vocals well set in – like it or not, a lot of people see in the sound of Bill’s vocals the one and only weak point at FLA generally – I would say that they are a trademark which deserve respect and attention. Also well done is the second piece "Low Life", on which I like the experiments on Bill’s vocals for the refrain. "Beneath The Rubble" features a remarkable melodic content which grabs my attention, while I have my problems with the four following pieces "Dissension", "Buried Alive", "Dopamine" and "Social Enemy". Too much of the mentioned D n’ B elements are mostly causing hectic here, FLA can never fill in their own signature – in short it means you hear the tracks once, you hear them twice – then you forget them. We have then here two tracks featuring guest appearances for the vocals, Jean-Luc De Meyer of FRONT 242 ("Future Fail") and Eskil Simonsson of COVENANT ("The Storm"). While both compositions will also not reach the hall of fame for FLA, the vocal input of J.-L. De Meyer can totally satisfy and features the known and beloved intensity, the input of Eskil Simonsson against to this seems misplaced. His voice may works well on Futurepop productions, but here it bores. Finally we have the best track of this album, "Humanity (World War Three)". Call me a bit old-fashioned, but – isn’t it conspicuous how similar it sounds to "Infra Red Combat"? Yes, that’s the piece that saves my day (and also this CD...). Add to this a hidden track afterwards, an experimental instrumental cut. As for a generally result, well – the surprise lays somewhere in between. I for myself was pretty much impressed with "Civilization" and it’s lighter but also darker mood, no wonder also that I tend to say "never" to call this album as outstanding. But I am sure that FLA will score with Artificial Soldier especially in the USA thanks to the more presented guitars and up-to-date styles. And – the most important point – it is FLA – and so still a quality product generally.


< Previous Review | Next Review >