FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY - Epitaph
Industrial/EBM
Album
9 October 2001
Metropolis
7.2

Good music doesn't need a category and this is probably a healthy mix of every album the band have produced to date, apart from 1994's guitar-driven 'Millennium'. It's when you hear tracks such as 'Dead Planet' that you realise that the best electro band that ever lived has not lost it's touch. Never have I heard a track that so encapsulates the spirit and class of FLA. Meltdown vocals, pulsating basslines, furiously complex arrangements, pulsating drum patterns and best of all, its deleriously addictive. The only thing that never changes about FLA are Leeb's rather formulaic vocals, usually this can be ignored as the music is allowed to take centre stage. However, after umpteen albums I find it's beginning to get a little stale now.

That's certainly the case with 'Backlash', a tour de force of crashing percussion and the sort of track Leeb probably writes in his sleep, but a rather monotonous vocal delivery lets it down. 'Epitaph' (previously available on the 'Subout' compilation) is back for a re-touch and this is the worst case of throwing a rather dour overused vocal atop an instrumental track i've heard for some time. I preferred the original, where Leebs superb percussive arrangements are given the deserved spotlight. However, it's not all like this 'Everything Must Perish' thankfully sees Leeb spends more time concentrating on vocal duties and is all the better for it, whilst some of the programming is certain to leave fans drooling over their CD sleeves. It's their best track for a long long time.

Elsewhere, 'Conscience' piano inflected chorus is pure joy. 'Insolence' is similarily addictive, with Leeb just about stretching his vocal credibility to the max, on what is a more introspective track. 'Existance' closes the album, a juggernaut of a track, and a programmers dream. It also harks back to the old days, when FLA cherished their hard-earned industrial tag. What is especially pleasing about 'Epitaph' is the concentration on songwriting in particular, something that began in earnest on their previous 'Implode' album and probably stems from their work on 'Delerium'. This means there is no room for the plethora of film samples, usually chucked in to make the overall effect more interesting, now no longer required.

All in all, I would hesitate to say this is Front Line Assembly at their best though, 'Haloed', 'Decoy' and 'Krank It Up' are a little too ordinary to put this on a new shelf altogether but once again FLA have thrown down the gauntlet to the rest.

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