Having released their soundtrack to the video game AirMech Wastelands, ‘WarMech,’ only last year, Front Line Assembly are back one again with a new album of Industrial tracks, running the gamut from mellow and even mournful, through to heavy club bangers. With a range of interesting guest vocalists thrown into the mix, ‘Wake up the Coma’ turns out to be quite a diverse offering from one of the Industrial genre’s first-wave stalwarts.
The album opens with the creeping electro rumble of Eye on You, quickly followed by almost MIDI-like embellishments to the high-end of the beat. The mid-range meanwhile is positively cavernous, working alongside Bill Leeb’s typically harsh vocals, and brooding guest Robert Gorl of Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft. The atmosphere Gorl establishes with his vocals runs through the track, whether it’s stomping or haunting and distant.
Arbeit picks up the pace with more frenetic electro elements that are somewhat reminiscent of Dope Stars Inc. The bass is a strong presence in this track with a deep rock feel to it, while about two minutes in the song opens out into a truly exultant piece, from there feeling fuller and even more energetic. Even so, the track seems to twist and turn between hope and despair, pulling the listener in opposing directions in both mind and body.
Perhaps the most surprising moment on the album is Front Line Assembly’s cover of the classic Falco track Amadeus, with guest vocals from Jimmy Urine of Mindless Self Indulgence. This version of Amadeus is so heavy in its beat that it’s almost infused with dubstep, while Urine delivers his vocals with a rap cadence in the verses, as opposed to a chorus more reminiscent of Gothic / third-wave Industrial sensibilities.
The album returns to electro-infused darkness with Tilt, a track harking back to ‘WarMech’ with its deep, dark, droning feel. This is in contrast with Hatevol, one of the strongest club tracks on the album. Hatevol delivers stomping beats and strange digital sounds that seem to imply the haunting presence of an aloof artificial intelligence. Alongside its pounding beat, Hatevol draws on the full gamut of the Industrial tradition, from the harsh to the melodic.
Proximity enters low and ominous, building a slow, heavy, imposing beat. Once again, the lumbering WarMechs are brought to mind before a faster, lighter beat in the chorus that remains set against haunting vocals. With these seemingly disparate sounds combined, the track seems to reach back even so far as Leeb’s former life as a member of Skinny Puppy, or perhaps offers a nod to Australia’s Snog.
The psychedelic confusion of the opening to Living a Lie is almost worthy of Pink Floyd before the track resolves itself into the discipline of pumping beats. This eminently danceable track is one of the strongest on the album, crunchy and rocking, and filled with Leeb’s harsh presence. Another stark contrast is introduced however with the deep and dramatic title track, Wake up the Coma. The vocals are led by an almost unrecognisable Nick Holmes of Paradise Lost and Bloodbath; indeed, nothing of his Bloodbath persona is present here, though fans of the Paradise Lost albums of the ‘Host’ era may find him a more familiar presence. Beautiful and emotive, Wake up the Coma is certainly worthy of being the title track.
Disciplined harshness resumes with the deep and pumping Mesmerized, while Negative Territory is slow and dream-like with meandering vocals and expansive, ethereal chorus. Unfortunately, the latter song errs on the side of being too slow and lengthy, having a tendency to lose the listener’s interest.
Structures is a more diverse track, weaving between deep, light and heavy elements; overall another pumping track, yet slightly melancholy.
The album closes with the slow, Gothic Spitting Wind, with the atmosphere almost entirely vested in the vocals of Chris Connelly of Revolting Cocks and Cocksure. Connelly’s lament is somewhat reminiscent of David Bowie’s darker moments, or perhaps Joe Romersa of Silent Hill soundtrack fame. With elements of the track becoming grating and discordant, it’s an appropriately unsettling end to the album.
With ‘Wake up the Coma,’ Front Line Assembly remain true to their harsh first-wave Industrial roots, while drawing on the atmosphere of their soundtrack work, as well as selected elements of the modern, more melodic Industrial approach. Taken together, these elements form a strong album with a couple of real bangers, though ultimately not a game changer for the genre.
FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY’S ‘WAKE UP THE COMA’ IS RELEASED FEBRUARY 8TH. PRE-ORDER IT FROM METROPOLIS RECORDS HERE!