Front Line Assembly
Canada is our awesome cousin to The North, known for many fine things: hockey, bacon, cheap pharmaceuticals and the pronunciation of “about” as “aboot.” Canada is also the birthplace of the influential electro-industrial band Skinny Puppy, one of whose offshoots is Front Line Assembly.
Front Line Assembly play industrial music that’s more reminiscent of New Order and early, disavowed Ministry; it’s a little creepy but you can totally dance to it. When South Florida’s ’90s goth kids ran amok after dark in their sun-bleached landscape, still seething from the heat, they were vamping to groups like Front Line Assembly in dimly lit corners of clubs reserved the other six nights of the week for light beer-fueled activities.
Front Line Assembly have embraced elements of electronic body music, or EBM, which originated in Belgium and other parts of Europe alongside new wave. Bill Leeb, who formed the group after exiting Skinny Puppy, has named SPK, Test Dept., Severed Heads, Liaisons Dangereuses and Einstürzende Neubauten as primary influences. “I think it was finding a middle ground between all of that and Cabaret Voltaire and experimenting with it,” Leeb told Altvenger magazine in 2016.
In truth, Front Line Assembly is more fun, dark, dance music than industrial, angsty goth. It’s a sensibility that’s better suited to the real world, frankly, since goths, like emo kids, can be sooo one-dimensional in their miseries. Somewhere along the evolutionary line from vampire makeup-wearing punk roots, to goth, dark wave, EBM, emo and all that jazz, a serious disconnect developed: In the middle of the transition, right after bands like 45-Grave and even Berlin, the fun got sucked right out and it was all gloom and doom, all the time. Let’s be honest: Nothing is gloom and doom all the time. Even if you find humor in the darkest of places, you’re still laughing.
Front Line Assembly is the band that laughs at your pain when you sprain your ankle dancing but it’s alright because you’re out having fun. Anything with a beat and some kitsch is a gas. And who doesn’t like Canadians? Just look at that dreamboat Justin Trudeau.
Front Line Assembly play November 4 at Respectable Street in West Palm Beach with Cubanate, Vampyre Anvil, Cyanide Regime and Skoros.
~ Tim Moffatt