Our top 10 Front Line Assembly songs list looks at the body of work of a Canadian prolific electro-industrial act formed by Bill Leeb in 1987. Vocalist Bill Leeb formed Front Line Assembly after ending his membership with his former electro-industrial band, Skinny Puppy in 1986. His departure from Skinny Puppy came after the release of the band’s sophomore LP, Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse. Inspired by electro-industrial acts including Cabaret Voltaire, Front 242, Severed Heads, Test Dept, and Portion Control, Front Line Assembly demo tapes, hoping to attract the attention of major record labels.
Guided by their love for electro-industrial music, Leeb collaborated with Michael Balch (as a producer) and Rhys Fulber in releasing some of the earliest works by Front Line Assembly. The three would later join hands in 1989 during the recording and release of Faces, Forms & Illusions by Delerium, Leeb’s side project. Delerium is renowned thanks to its successful hit “Silence,” which is Platinum-certified in the UK.
“Aggression,” a 1987 track, marked Front Line Assembly’s first official release. The song was initially released on the 1987 compilation album, For Your Ears Only by Third Mind Records. “Aggression” would later be featured on the band’s first EP, Disorder, in 1988. Since its inception, Front Line Assembly has released seventeen studio albums, some of which have made it to the Billboard Top Dance/Electronic Album Chart.
Front Line Assembly’s Album Releases over the Years
As the year 1987 came to an end, Front Line Assembly had something to show for its musical pursuits, releasing its debut studio album, The Initial Command. Assisted by KK, a small Belgian record label, the band made its first attempt in the electro-industrial music scene. The fair release featured notable hits from the album including “The State,” “No Control,” and “Insanity Lurks Nearby.” Front Line Assembly went on to release its sophomore studio album, State of Mind, in 1988, through Dossier Records.
State of Mind saw the band blend its usual electro-industrial sound with elements of industrial dance music. “Landslide,” “Resistance,” and “Terminal Power” are some of the best Front Line Assembly songs from the album. Still in 1998, Front Line Assembly issued its third studio album, Corrosion. This electro-industrial album was issued through Third Mind Records. Popular songs by Front Line Assembly from the album include “Conflict” and “Lurid Sensation.”
In 1989, Front Line Assembly released its fourth studio album, Gashed Senses & Crossfire. The album marked the band’s first mainstream successful release after the hit “Digital Tension Dementia” charted on the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart, peaking at number forty-five. “No Limit,” “Big Money,” and “Antisocial” are other renowned songs by Front Line Assembly from the album. Gashed Senses & Crossfire marked Michael Balch’s final album as a member of Front Line Assembly, having him join Revolting Cocks and Ministry as a touring member in the early ‘90s.
Caustic Grip, issued in 1990, marked Front Line Assembly’s fifth studio album. The album saw Bill Leeb team up with keyboardist Rhys Fulber following the departure of Michael Balch. Caustic Grip saw Front Line Assembly achieve mainstream success, thanks to the singles “Provision” and “Iceolate,” both of which made it to Melody Maker’s single of the week. “Iceolate” received some airplay on MTV, helping Front Line Assembly grow its fanbase, especially in the US. Other notable hits by Front Line Assembly from Caustic Grip include “Threshold” and “Resist.”
In 1992, the band issued its sixth studio album, Tactical Neural Implant. The album marked Front Line Assembly’s final album issued through Third Mind Records. Thanks to the dynamic heavy bass and amazing electronic harmonies, Tactical Neural Implant sounded appealing to most electro-industrial fans. “Mindphaser,” “The Blade,” “Bio-Mechanic,” and “Gun” are some of the best Front Line Assembly songs from the LP.
Front Line Assembly continued its impact in the electro-industrial music genre with its seventh studio album, Millennium. Issued in 1994, Millennium marked the band’s first album released through Roadrunner Records. However, Millennium saw the band feature industrial metal elements thanks to metal guitar riffs by Devin Townsend, the founder of the extreme metal ensemble, Strapping Young Lad.
“Surface Patterns,” “Millennium,” and “Vigilante” are some of the musical gems by Front Line Assembly from the album. Millennium was a success in the mainstream, peaking at number thirty-one on the Swedish Albums Chart. The album was also nominated for the Best Hard Rock Album in the 1995 Juno Awards. However, the album lost the award to Suffersystem by the Canadian industrial metal band Monster Voodoo Machine.
Devin Townsend accompanied Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber in Hard Wire, Front Line Assembly’s eighth studio album. Like Millennium, Hard Wire saw the band take on a blend of electro-industrial and industrial metal sonic influences. “Circuitry,” “Modus Operandi,” “Neologic Spasm,” and “Barcode” are some of the most popular songs by Front Line Assembly from the album. Hard Wire went on to peak at number forty-seven on the Swedish Albums Chart.
[FLA]vour of the Weak, issued in 1997, marked the band’s ninth studio album. The album felt more electronica-influenced than most of Front Line Assembly’s releases. Notable releases on this album include “Comatose,” “Predator,” and Colombian Necktie.” “Comatose” was a success, making it to the fourth spot on the Billboard Hot Dance Breakouts Chart in 1998.
In 1999, the band issued its tenth studio album, Implode through Metropolis Records. Other notable artists who have once been affiliated with Metropolis Records include Bauhaus, Doubting Thomas, Front 242, Alison Moyet, Skinny Puppy, and Gary Numan. Implode featured musical gems including “Prophesy,” “Fatalist,” Synthetic Forms,” and “Retribution.”
Epitaph, issued in 2001, marked Front Line Assembly’s eleventh studio album. The album was a success, featuring one of the fan-favorite hits, “Everything Must Perish.” After a three years break from releasing new music, Front Line Assembly released Civilization. Civilization marked the return of Rhys Fulber, who appeared last in the 1995 LP, Hard Wired. “Maniacal,” “Vanished,” and “Psychosomatic” are some of the best Front Line Assembly songs from Civilization. The album topped the German Alternative Albums Chart with two of its singles, “Maniacal” and “Vanished,” topping the German Alternative Singles Chart.
In 2006, the band returned with its thirteenth studio album, Artificial Soldier. The album achieved mild success in the mainstream, peaking at the nineteenth spot on the Billboard Top Electronic Albums Chart. “Social Enemy,” “Beneath the Rubble,” “The Storm,” and “Unleashed” are some of the most popular songs by Front Line Assembly songs from the album.
Improvised Electronic Device, issued in 2010, marked the band’s fourteenth studio album. The album was a success, peaking at number twenty-three on the Billboard Top Dance/Electronic Albums Chart. Justin Hagberg of the Canadian heavy metal band 3 Inches of Blood and Al Jourgensen of Ministry were among the additional personnel in Front Line Assembly’s fourteenth LP. “Shifting Through the Lens,” a remix of “Angriff,” and “Afterlife” are some of the best Front Line Assembly songs from the album.
In 2013, Front Line Assembly issued its fifteenth LP, Echogenetic. The album is by far one of the best-performing releases by the band in the mainstream. Echogenetic topped the German Alternative Albums Chart, rising to the seventy-fifth spot on the German Albums Chart. The album also peaked at position nineteen on both the Billboard Top Dance/Electronic Albums and Billboard Heatseekers Albums Charts. “Killing Grounds,” “Deadened,” “Exo,” and “Ghosts” are some of the musical gems featured on the album.
Six years later, the band returned with its sixteenth studio album, Wake Up the Coma. The album is home to notable hits including a cover of Falco’s hit “Rock Me Amadeus,” “Eye on You,” and “Arbeit.” Wake Up the Coma peaked at number fifteen on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums Chart, rising to the fortieth spot on the Billboard Independent Albums Chart. Front Line Assembly’s seventeenth and final studio album, Mechanical Soul, was issued in 2021. The album featured vocalist Jean-Luc De Meyer of Front 242 and guitarist Dino Cazares of Fear Factory. “Purge,” “Alone,” and “Unknown” are some of the best Front Line Assembly songs from the album.
Front Line Assembly’s Legacy and Other Musical Pursuits
Front Line Assembly is one of the most sought-after Canadian electro-industrial bands alongside Skinny Puppy. The band has managed to combine elements of industrial metal, EBM, and industrial rock with its signature electro-industrial sound. Its members, Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber are members of other side projects including Conjure One and Delerium. Rhys’ enduring relationship with Fear Factory has seen him become the band’s long-time producer too. Here we present the ten best Front Line Assembly songs of all time sampled from the band’s seventeen studio albums.
#10 – Shifting Through The Lens
Ushering us to the top 10 Front Line Assembly songs list is the thrilling hit “Shifting Through the Lens.” The song is among the notable hits released by the band in 2010, featured on the album, Improvised Electronic Device. “Shifting Through the Lens” was issued two weeks before the release of the album Improvised Electronic Device. The single was released together with a cover of mind.in.a.box’s hit “Angriff.”
Also released together with “Shifting Through the Lens” on June 8, 2010, is the non-album instrumental track “Endless Void.” The songs were issued beforehand to create anticipation toward Front Line Assembly’s forthcoming fourteenth studio album. Improvised Electronic Device came at a time the band was celebrating twenty-four years of ingenuity in the electro-industrial music genre.
# 9 – Killing Grounds
“Killing Grounds” is an anthemic song off Front Line Assembly’s fifteenth studio album, Echogenetic. The song finds the band pushing through the limits of the electro-industrial music genre, featuring modern electronica and EBM sonic influences. Front Line Assembly managed to bring out the modern electronica sound in Echogenetic, thanks to the employment of dubstep in songs like “Killing Grounds.”
The result was a heavier dance-oriented and more electronic influence. In addition to the alluring beats, “Killing Grounds” epitomizes the band’s capabilities of going more electronica with dubstep influences. Echogenetic went on to receive mainstream success in the US, where it managed to position nineteen on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums Chart.
# 8 – Circuitry
Coming in at number eight on our top 10 Front Line Assembly songs list is the terrific hit “Circuitry.” The song is among the top songs featured on the band’s first release through Off Beat Records, Hard Wired. Hard Wired continues with the same momentum seen with the band’s seventh studio album, Millennium. Both albums saw the band appreciate the introduction of guitars, with the role delegated to Devin Townsend, founder of Strapping Young Lad.
“Circuitry” was among the successful hits released by Front Line Assembly featuring Devin on the Guitars. The song managed to enter the Swedish Singles Chart, peaking at number thirty-two. Hard Wired also went on to become among the band’s most successful releases in Sweden too, peaking at number forty-seven on the Swedish Albums Chart.
# 7 – Everything Must Perish
Epitaph, the band’s eleventh studio album, is home to the seventh pick of our top 10 Front Line Assembly songs, “Everything Must Perish.” The song was released as the first single from the album in 2001. This was the band’s first release since the issue of “Fatalist,” one of the best Front Line Assembly songs from the band’s tenth LP, Implode. “Everything Must Perish” finds Front Line Assembly pursuing more melodic sounds.
This deep and apocalyptic hit features some of the best vocals by the band’s vocalist Bill Leeb. “Everything Must Perish” is among the best songs by the band without a single guitar riff! Instead, the song employs the brilliant use of mixing and engineering by Brian Gardner and Greg Reely. Greg has also worked with other reputable artists/bands including Fear Factory, Machine Head, Sarah McLachlan, and Coldplay.
# 6 – Digital Tension Dementia
Number six on our top 10 Front Line Assembly songs list is the outstanding hit “Digital Tension Dementia.” The song is among the best songs by Front Line Assembly from the band’s fourth studio album, Gashed Senses & Crossfire. “Digital Tension Dementia” is a definitive song when it comes to mainstream success for Front Line Assembly. The song was the band’s first song to make it to the Billboard Charts, asserting Front Line Assembly’s rising popularity amongst electro-industrial music fans in the US. “Digital Tension Dementia” peaked at number forty-five on the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart.
# 5 – Prophesy
Implode, issued in 1999, is the band’s tenth studio album and home to the fifth pick of our ten best Front Line Assembly songs, “Prophesy.” The song’s sound arouses memories of the band’s 1992 album Tactical Neural Implant, one of Front Line Assembly’s classic electro-industrial releases of all time. “Prophesy” saw the band take on its usual electro-industrial sound, featuring elements of intelligent dance music.
The song was a work of art that didn’t hide the band’s admiration of other electronic music legends. “Prophesy” sampled the hook/riff of the 1975 hit “Uranium” by the German pioneers of the electronic music Kraftwerk. The song also sampled the drums of the 1991 hit “Central Industrial” by the British electronic duo, The Future Sound of London.
#4 – Millennium
“Millennium” is a musical gem that gives us a taste of Front Line Assembly’s industrial metal sound. The song serves as the album title track to the band’s seventh studio album, issued in 1994. Front Line Assembly’s shift from electro-industrial music to industrial metal was heavily motivated by metal guitar riffs by Devin Townsend. Millennium had most of its songs inspired by reputable metal acts like Pantera, Metallica, and Sepultura. The music video for the hit “Millennium” is futuristic, to say the least!
# 3 – Maniacal
The third pick of our ten best Front Line Assembly songs is the prodigious hit “Maniacal.” “Maniacal” is among the musical gems featured on the band’s twelfth studio album, Civilization. The album marked the return of Rhys Fulber to the band’s lineup after his departure in 1997. Fulber’s return saw the band take on some melodic sounds for most of the songs on the album.
With “Maniacal,” the band explored some dark and futuristic sounds which make it stand out from the rest of the songs on Civilization. The song went on to top the German Alternative Singles Chart, a feat achieved by “Vanished,” another single from the album, Civilization. “Maniacal” went on to appear on the Billboard Hot Dance Singles Chart, peaking at number fifteen.
# 2 – Iceolate
“Iceolate” is a fan favorite pick from Front Line Assembly’s fifth studio album, Caustic Grip. The song was named Melody Maker single of the week, a feat also achieved by “Provision,” another musical gem from the album Caustic Grip. Both “Iceolate” and “Provisions” helped push Caustic Grip’s sales to over seventy thousand copies. While the song failed to make it to the charts, its promotional music video received fair airplay on MTV, helping usher Front Line Assembly into mainstream success.
#1 – Mindphaser
As earlier noted, Tactical Neural Implant is among the classic electro-industrial albums of all time. The album is revered by most electro-industrial and industrial dance music fans, thanks to its fast yet enthralling beats that make it quite danceable. “Mindphaser” is among the fan favorite hits by the band from the album Tactical Neural Implant and the top song by Front Line Assembly on our list.
Together with “The Blade,” “Mindphaser” are the most sought-after hits from the album, thanks to their archetypical electro-industrial sound. The song’s promotional video won the 1992 Much Music accolade for the Best Alternative Video. “Mindphaser” is the only song by the band to have received massive/regular airplay on MTV, solidifying its position as the Front Line Assembly’s signature song.
Feature Photo: Carstor, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Top 10 Front Line Assembly Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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