Front Line Assembly

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Front Line Assembly
From left to right: Jeremy Inkel and Bill Leeb performing live at Magic Stick in Detroit, MI, 2007.
Background information
Origin Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Genres Electro-industrial, EBM, Industrial metal
Years active 1986 (1986)–present
Labels KK, Dossier, Third Mind, Wax Trax!, Roadrunner, Cleopatra, Off Beat, Metropolis, Dependent, Zoth Ommog
Associated acts Conjure One, Cyberaktif, Delerium, Equinox, Fauxliage, Fear Factory, Intermix, Left Spine Down, Noise Unit, Pro>Tech, Skinny Puppy, Stiff Valentine, Synæsthesia, Will
Members Bill Leeb
Jeremy Inkel
Jared Slingerland
Past members Chris Peterson
Michael Balch
Rhys Fulber

Front Line Assembly (FLA) is a Canadian electro-industrial band formed by Bill Leeb in 1986 after leaving Skinny Puppy. Influenced by early electronic and (post-)industrial acts such as Cabaret Voltaire, Portion Control, D.A.F., Test Dept, SPK, and Severed Heads,[1] FLA has developed its own unique sound while combining elements of electronic body music (EBM). The band's membership has rotated through several members over the years, including Rhys Fulber and Michael Balch who are both associated with several other successful artists.


Formation (1985–1986)[edit]

Between 1985 and 1986, Bill Leeb supported Skinny Puppy under the name Wilhelm Schroeder. Wilhelm is Leeb's real first name while Schroeder stems from the Peanuts character of the same name and was meant as a joke. Leeb later recounted how cEvin Key came up with the idea: "Kevin said, 'Hey, you should call yourself Wilhelm Schroeder,' because it was cEvin Key and Nivek Ogre, those weren't their real names. That was more of a joke thing."[2] As an early friend of the band he contributed bass synth and backing vocals for several tracks while also supporting their 1985 tour.[3] Leeb reflects on this period, "Skinny Puppy was a good starting point for me, but there was definitely no way for me to get my ideas across."[1] Also, Leeb wanted to take an active role as vocalist.[4] His experiences working with Skinny Puppy gave him some insight in the industry and helped shape his ideas for his own personal career.[5] Contacts in the music scene he had gathered while with Skinny Puppy facilitated the advancement of his own project, leading to contract offers from the first two labels that Leeb later approached with cassettes.[4]

The band name reflects Leebs view of the world at the time. "The name came to me from just hearing people's struggles all over the world on the news all the time", he revealed after the formation of Front Line Assembly, "The only way people can fight back is to assemble in groups. We are fed so much information through the media that no one knows what to believe anymore. So Front Line Assembly means fighting the communications war."[1]

Upon the formation of Front Line Assembly, Leeb produced the Nerve War demo tape which was distributed on a limited basis. Around this time, Leeb and Rhys Fulber became friends when they discovered they both had a similar interest in underground music. "He was playing cool underground tapes that I liked. Not many people then were into that kind of music", recalls Fulber.[6] As an unofficial member at this time, Fulber partnered with Leeb during the production of Total Terror and was credited for the song "Black Fluid" on the demo.[6] Both demo releases were limited to 100 and mostly distributed amongst friends.[3]

Debut and first album (1987–1988)[edit]

In 1987, Front Line Assembly debuted its first album The Initial Command (KK Records, Belgium) with credited assistance by Fulber and Balch. The album had been produced on a tight budget which would determine whether or not cuts would be done with an eight track system or split into two four track cuts.[7] After finally reaching a point of relative stability, the band's next album, State of Mind, was released on Third Mind in 1988.[8]

After working with FLA on an unofficial basis, Balch officially joined the band in 1988 and began writing songs alongside Leeb for the next few albums.[9] Balch mostly contributed by providing keyboards and programming. As Leeb put it, "I would write the songs, and he was really good with the software."[5] This partnership produced the releases Corrosion and Disorder in 1988 which were released together with three more unreleased tracks on the compilations Convergence later that year and Corroded Disorder in 1995.

The change in labels for the first few releases before finally sticking with Third Mind was a deliberate choice. The reason for that was that Leeb did not want to be bound to a label.[4] Therefore, all releases before Corrosion were issued only on European labels,[3] which changed with Corrosion and subsequent albums. Adhering to Third Mind for Europe and Wax Trax! for North America made Front Line Assembly releases significantly more available. According to Leeb, this arrangement "worked out much better as far as distribution and promotion. [...] Third Mind is getting very good distribution in Europe."[3]

The Fulber era (1989–1995)[edit]

Fueled by growing success, FLA produced their next album Gashed Senses and Crossfire in 1989. This album introduced the single Digital Tension Dementia which caught the attention of many underground music fans and disc jockeys.[citation needed] While FLA was beginning to grow in popularity, Balch parted ways to join Ministry.[5] Filling the void, Rhys Fulber officially joined[5] and the two produced Caustic Grip—an instant classic with underground fans. Leeb attributed this success to his new partnership with Rhys due to their similar taste in music while noting that Fulber was "a lot more fun to work with."[10] In 1991, the duo released the non-album single, Virus, which sounded similar in style to the tracks from Caustic Grip. The single, along with the accompanying music video, gained extensive attention in industrial and dance clubs world wide.[citation needed]

In 1992, Front Line Assembly reached a turning point in the band's musical style with the album Tactical Neural Implant. Leeb and Fulber intended to create an album with the intensity of Caustic Grip but with song structures "like bands who really write songs."[11] After a week, the duo gave up that method and started over. Their new method, as described by Leeb, was just finding what "sounds good."[11] The resulting album pushed FLA's style toward a hard-edged disco while "having more in common with Nine Inch Nails than Skinny Puppy."[12] This album helped FLA become one of industrial music's most popular bands. The next album Millennium (1994)[8] featured a combination of metal guitars, electronic music, and media sampling (much of which was taken from the Michael Douglas film Falling Down) which had become one of the characteristics of industrial rock and industrial metal during the 1990s. Hard Wired (1995)[8] and the world tour following the release was FLA's most successful commercial and critical period.[citation needed]

The Peterson era (1997–2002)[edit]

In 1997, Fulber left the band to concentrate on producing Fear Factory along with other bands. Chris Peterson, who had already supported the band's live shows, replaced Fulber. Soon after Fulber quit, the 1997 album [FLA]vour of the Weak was released. Yet again, the album was stylistically divergent from previous releases. The metal influences found in Millennium gave way to a more electronica sound within the new release.

Front Line Assembly made somewhat of a return to their former sound with the album Implode (1999), followed by Epitaph (2001), as well as half of the soundtrack for the video game Quake III Arena in 1999. Chris Peterson left FLA in 2002. Through most of that year it was rumoured that the band had essentially broken up.[citation needed]

Fulber returns, and Peterson (2003–2009)[edit]

Rhys Fulber rejoined the band in 2003. The reunited duo released the single Maniacal in October of that same year, launching a new phase in the band's career. The next year, they released the studio album Civilization. Chris Peterson later rejoined the band to release Artificial Soldier in 2006. The following tour was cut short due to a problem with the company supplying the tour bus. The band acknowledged that they were returning home to Vancouver earlier than planned after playing roughly half of their scheduled tour in the United States (dates in New York and Canada were canceled). The band toured in Europe in August 2006 covering 18 cities.

In April 2007, Front Line Assembly released a remix album titled Fallout. The album was released in a 4-panel digipak and featured three previously unreleased tracks ("Electric Dreams," "Unconscious," and "Armageddon") and nine remixes by several other Industrial acts and names.[13] After the release of the remix album, the band went out to tour North America and Europe.

Shifting Through the Lens and Improvised Electronic Device (2010)[edit]

In 2010, Front Line Assembly, with new members Jeremy Inkel and Jared Slingerland, released a new single, Shifting Through the Lens, and album, Improvised Electronic Device.

As described on Dependent Records' website, the album is described as "stronger and more danceable" when compared to immediately previous releases. "Angriff", the second single from the album, is further described as "wandering on metal paths reminiscent of Rammstein and their own Millenium [sic] album."[14] In 2012, Leeb mentioned that a new album will be completed by the end of the year, though no official announcement or tour date has been released.[citation needed]

Back to the electronic roots (since 2012)[edit]

Having integrated guitars into their sound since the late 1980s, either sampled or as live guitars, FLA set the stage in 2012 for the return to an exclusively electronic soundscape. This change could be heard when the band released the soundtrack album AirMech for the video game of the same name at the end of 2012.[15] Comprising only instrumental tracks, AirMech laid some grounds for 2013 full-length album Echogenetic, as Bill Leeb recalls in an interview with Rock Sins: "I guess this sound of this record maybe it started pretty much with the record we did prior called AirMech."[16] Echogenetic was widely praised by critics[17] and hit the charts in the United States[18] and in Germany.[19] Entering the official German charts was an all-time first in the band's history.[20] The following European promo tour took place in August 2013 and included dates in Russia, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and the UK.[21]

Name spelling[edit]

The spelling of the band name has varied over the years. Various albums (e.g. from the early State of Mind to the recent Artificial Soldier) spell the name in compound form ("Frontline Assembly") while the majority spell it in three words. (The abbreviation "FLA", also used on various albums, suggests that the correct spelling, to the extent that there is one, is indeed three separate words.) The music press has consequently not used any consistent spelling. During touring for Hard Wired, Rhys Fulber explained the band's stance on the matter, referring to "Front Line": "Two words – I guess that ultimately it doesn't matter, but we prefer two words."[22]


Current members[edit]

The current official line-up[23] of Front Line Assembly consists of:

Former members[edit]

Member timeline[edit]


Studio albums

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Armstrong, Emily (1987). Front Line Assembly. Lively Arts. Archived from the original on April 2, 2012. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  2. ^ Porter, Alicia (November 8, 1998). "Front Line Assembly". Eklectique Magazine. Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d Radio, Joe (April 24, 1988). "Interview: Front Line Assembly". Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c "Front Line Assembly". Chaos Control Magazine. 1993. Retrieved July 21, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d "History". Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b "Rhys Fulber > Biography". Archived from the original on May 10, 2012. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  7. ^ Shea, Mike (1988). Interview with Bill Leeb. Alternative Press. Archived from the original on April 2, 2012. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c Front Line Assembly: State of Mind > Overview at AllMusic. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  9. ^ "Michael Balch". Archived from the original on May 10, 2012. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  10. ^ Radio, Joe (November 23, 1990). "Interview: Front Line Assembly". Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Garcia, Sandra (September 1992). Interview with Bill Leeb. B-Side Magazine. Archived from the original on April 2, 2012. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Front Line Assembly > Tactical Neural Implant". Mindphaser 3.0. Melody Maker. Archived from the original on May 16, 2012. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  13. ^ Van Isacker, B. (April 19, 2007). "Forthcoming Front Line Assembly remix album countdown starts". Side Line Music Magazine. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Front Line Assembly - Shifting Through the Lens". Dependent. Retrieved 2010-04-17. 
  15. ^ "AirMech Soundtrack on Steam". Steamworks. Retrieved April 2, 2014. 
  16. ^ Hill, Matt (September 2013). "Interview with Bill Leeb (Front Line Assembly)". Rock Sins. Retrieved April 2, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Echogenetic Review Roundup". July 8, 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Front Line Assembly". Billboard. Retrieved April 2, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Front Line Assembly auf Platz Eins in den DAC" (in German). Dependent. Retrieved April 2, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Echogenetic hits Media Control Charts". Dependent. July 24, 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2014. 
  21. ^ "The Full Tour Dates Announced". Retrieved April 2, 2014. 
  22. ^ Blink, Anastasia. "More "Stuff" Than "Dat" – an interview with Rhys Fulber of Front Line Assembly". Sonic Envelope Magazine. Archived from the original on September 26, 2003. Retrieved July 21, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Bios > Current Members". Retrieved March 30, 2014. 

External links[edit]