Front Line Assembly

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Front Line Assembly
20160305 Oberhausen E-Tropolis Frontline Assembly 0097.jpg
Front Line Assembly performing at the 2016 E-Tropolis Festival
Background information
Origin Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Years active1986 (1986)–present
Associated acts
Members Bill Leeb
Rhys Fulber
Jason Bazinet
Jeff Swearengin
Past membersMichael Balch
Chris Peterson
Jeremy Inkel
Jared Slingerland

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 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 acts.

Electro-industrial is a music genre that emerged from industrial music in the mid-1980s. While EBM has a minimal structure and clean production, electro-industrial has a deep, complex and layered sound. The style was pioneered by Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly, and other groups, either from Canada or the Benelux. In the early 1990s, the style spawned the dark electro genre, and in the mid-/late-1990s, the aggrotech offshoot. The fan base for the style is linked to the rivethead subculture.

Bill Leeb musician and record producer

Wilhelm Anton "Bill" Leeb is an Austrian-Canadian electronic musician and record producer. He is best known for being a founding member of the industrial music group Front Line Assembly. Additionally, Leeb is known for his work with groups such as Noise Unit, Delerium, Intermix, and Skinny Puppy, among others.

This is a list of notable events in music that took place in the year 1986.


Since their inception, the group have produced over a dozen studio albums and EPs, several of which have charted on Billboard's Top Dance/Electronic Album chart. The albums Tactical Neural Implant and Hard Wired are two of the group's most successful records, the former being considered a classic among industrial music fans. They have also produced soundtracks for video games such as Quake III: Team Arena (a collaboration with Sonic Mayhem) and AirMech . Their most recent studio album was Wake Up the Coma , released in 2019.

<i>Billboard</i> (magazine) American music magazine

Billboard is an American entertainment media brand owned by the Billboard-Hollywood Reporter Media Group, a division of Eldridge Industries. It publishes pieces involving news, video, opinion, reviews, events, and style, and is also known for its music charts, including the Hot 100 and Billboard 200, tracking the most popular songs and albums in different genres. It also hosts events, owns a publishing firm, and operates several TV shows.

<i>Tactical Neural Implant</i> 1992 studio album by Front Line Assembly

Tactical Neural Implant is the ninth album by electro-industrial artists Front Line Assembly. Third Mind Records originally released it in 1992 on both compact-disc and LP formats. The album has also been issued by Roadrunner in a two-disc set that includes the Millennium album.

<i>Hard Wired</i> album by Front Line Assembly

Hard Wired is the eleventh album by Front Line Assembly, released in 1995.


Formation (1985–1986)

Between 1985 and 1986, Bill Leeb performed with Skinny Puppy under the name Wilhelm Schroeder, a combination of his first name and the name of the Peanuts character and was meant as a joke. [2] Leeb had no musical training, and learned to play synthesizer while contributing bass synth and backing vocals for the band, [3] [4] He also supported their 1985 tour. [5] Not prepared for another tour, Leeb left Skinny Puppy in early 1986. [3] [3]

This is a list of notable events in music that took place in the year 1985.

Skinny Puppy band

Skinny Puppy is a Canadian industrial music group formed in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1982. The group is widely considered to be one of the founders of the electro-industrial genre. Initially envisioned as an experimental side project by cEvin Key while he was in the new wave band Images in Vogue, Skinny Puppy evolved into a full-time project with the addition of vocalist Nivek Ogre. Over the course of a dozen studio albums and many live tours, Key and Ogre have been the only constant members. Other members have included Dwayne Goettel (1986–1995), Dave "Rave" Ogilvie, Mark Walk (2003–present), and a number of guests, including Bill Leeb, Al Jourgensen (1989), and many others.

Schroeder (<i>Peanuts</i>) fictional character

Schroeder is a fictional character in the long-running comic strip Peanuts, created by Charles M. Schulz. He is distinguished by his precocious skill at playing the toy piano, as well as by his love of classical music and the composer Ludwig van Beethoven in particular. Schroeder is also the catcher on Charlie Brown's baseball team, though he is always seen walking back to the pitcher's mound with the baseball, never throwing it—admitting in one strip he did not want the other team to discover his lack of ability. He is also the object of the unrequited infatuation of Lucy van Pelt, who constantly leans on Schroeder's piano, much to Schroeder's annoyance. Charlie Brown, Frieda and Snoopy are also occasionally depicted as leaning on Schroeder's piano.

Having developed some instrumental skills and music industry experience, [6] and wanting to do more vocal work, [1] Leeb decided to take the risk of starting his own project. [4] [7] Leeb decided to call the project Front Line Assembly to reflect his belief that strength lies in working together. [1]

Leeb started by producing a demo tape, Nerve War , which was distributed on a limited basis. Contacts in the music scene he had gathered while with Skinny Puppy led to contract offers from the first two labels that Leeb later approached with cassettes. [7]

<i>Nerve War</i> 1986 demo album by Front Line Assembly

Nerve War is the first release by the Canadian band Front Line Assembly. Having a limited cassette release in 1986, it remains the most sought-after release from Bill Leeb and company. The songs on the tape sound more abrasive and industrial than Leeb's more-recent output which leans more toward an EBM style. It has never been officially released after Front Line Assembly became more popular, however, MP3s of it have appeared on the Internet since about 2002.

Around this time, Leeb and Rhys Fulber became friends when they discovered they both had a similar interest in underground music. 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. Both demo releases were limited to 100 and mostly distributed amongst friends. [5]

<i>Total Terror</i> 1986 demo album by Front Line Assembly

Total Terror is the second of two self-released cassette tapes by industrial music band Front Line Assembly. At this point, Bill Leeb was the band's only dedicated member, with some help from Rhys Fulber. It was mostly remastered and rereleased on CD in 1993 as Total Terror I, and followed up by a companion collection of same-period demos, Total Terror II, a year later. These have been collected into Complete Total Terror. One track, "Eternal", from the original cassette remains un-rereleased.

Early releases and Michael Balch (1987–1989)

The first appearance of Front Line Assembly was the track "Aggression", [8] which was included on the compilation For Your Ears Only, released in 1987 by British independent record label Third Mind [9] showcasing the label's repertoire at the time. The track would be re-released the following year on the Disorder EP. Although the contact to Third Mind would later develop into a long-standing collaboration, the band debuted its first album The Initial Command with credited assistance by Fulber and Michael Balch on Belgian independent record label KK at the end of 1987. 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. [10] With the next album State of Mind , released in January 1988, the band switched to German independent label Dossier. [11] They changed labels as Leeb did not want to be bound to one label, [7] so the releases were issued only on European labels. [5]

In 1988, Balch became as official band member [5] and began writing songs alongside Leeb for the next few albums. Balch mostly contributed by providing keyboards and programming. [6] This partnership produced the releases Corrosion and Disorder. A planned release on the Canadian label Nettwerk fell through, [10] and the two finished masters were issued instead by Third Mind in 1988. [12] Through Levermore Corrosion was licensed to Wax Trax!. Both records were re-released together with three more unreleased tracks on the compilations Convergence later that year and Corroded Disorder in 1995.

Adhering to Third Mind for Europe and Wax Trax! for North America resulted in better availability of the albums in both places, [5] and the signing with Third Mind attracted the attention of established music magazines, including Melody Maker [13] [14] [15] [16] or NME [17] as well as the underground magazine Music From the Empty Quarter. [18]

Front Line Assembly produced their next album Gashed Senses & Crossfire in 1989. This album introduced their first single Digital Tension Dementia which became their first chart success and peaked at position 45 of the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart. [19] In support of their latest release, the band, together with Fulber as live metal percussionist, headed out to Europe and North America for their first tour. However, during the show in London in July 1989 their first live album Live was recorded under unfavourable circumstances. Presumably not well attended, the audience's reactions at the show had to be reworked. [20] For Balch it was also the last Front Line Assembly tour since he parted ways to join Ministry and Revolting Cocks. [6] [9]

Rhys Fulber and growing popularity (1990–1999)

Filling the void left by Balch's departure, Fulber officially joined. [6] [21] The two musicians had similar tastes, both being enthusiastic about electronic music. [22] [22] The duo recorded their next album, Caustic Grip , in the first half of 1990. Accompanied by the release of two singles in 1990, Iceolate and Provision, the album raised Front Line Assembly's profile in the industrial music scene and in the media considerably. [7] [9] Melody Maker elected both album singles Single of the week [20] while the promotional video for Iceolate [23] received some airplay on MTV.

On Caustic Grip the band started working with Greg Reely which would evolve into a long-term partnership. [9] The tour in support of the album started in January 1991 in the United States [24] to be followed by a European leg in February which was accompanied by the release of stand-alone single Virus the same month. [9] Chris Peterson, who would later become a full-time member of Front Line Assembly, gave his debut for the band on this tour, completing the live line-up as percussionist.

Rhys Fulber performing with Front Line Assembly in 2016 20160305 Oberhausen E-Tropolis Frontline Assembly 0015.jpg
Rhys Fulber performing with Front Line Assembly in 2016

In 1992, Front Line Assembly reached a turning point in the band's musical style with the album Tactical Neural Implant . The media, including Melody Maker , [25] Siren Magazine [26] and fanzine Industrial Strength [27] all commented particularly on the more melodious approach featured on the album and noted the use of multi-layered sounds which would become a trademark of the band. Asked about this composing style by Industrial Nation, Leeb explained that the band continually experimented with new ways to use technology to make each recording different, and had focused on clarity and sustain in their instrumentation and structure in their songs. [28] [29]

The video for the first single off the album, Mindphaser, was awarded "Best Alternative Video" at Much Music's 1992 Canadian Music Video Awards. [30] In August 1992, Front Line Assembly embarked on a tour that covered Northern America and Europe. [31] The album continues to be played in industrial and electronic music dance clubs and is considered a classic among listeners and musicians of industrial music. [32] [33]

The next album Millennium (1994) [11] 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) [11] and the world tour following the release was FLA's most successful commercial and critical period.[ citation needed ]

In 1997, Fulber left the band to concentrate on producing Fear Factory with other bands. Chris Peterson, who had already supported the band's live shows, replaced Fulber. Soon after Fulber's departure, the 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 returned somewhat to their former sound with the album Implode (1999). Front Line Assembly composed the soundtrack for the video game, Quake III Team Arena . In October 1999, it was made public that the band had left their label Metropolis. [34]

Success in the new millennium (2000–2011)

The band followed up Implode with the 2001 album Epitaph . This was the final album worked on by Peterson before departing in 2002. [35] The album was a critical success [36] and spawned the single "Everything Must Perish". [37] The album also marked the band's return to Metropolis records. [38]

Bill Leeb and Jeremy Inkel performing in 2007 FrontLineAssembly.jpg
Bill Leeb and Jeremy Inkel performing in 2007

Fulber rejoined the band in 2003. The reunited duo released the single "Maniacal" in October of that year. The single peaked at No. 15 on Billboard's Hot Dance Singles. [39] The next year, they released the studio album Civilization , which landed the No. 2 position on the German Alternative Albums chart. [40] Peterson later rejoined the band to release Artificial Soldier in 2006. It was the first album to feature new members Jeremy Inkel and Jared Slingerland. [41] The album peaked on Billboard's Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart at No. 19. [42] After a problem with the tour bus company, the US tour that year was cut short, and the band returned home to Vancouver after playing roughly half of their scheduled dates; performances in New York and Canada were cancelled. The band toured in Europe in August 2006, playing in 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. [43] After the release of the remix album, the band went out to tour North America and Europe.

In 2010, Front Line Assembly released two new singles, "Shifting Through the Lens" and "Angriff", and an album, Improvised Electronic Device . The album reached No. 23 on Billboard's Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart [42] and was supported by a series of tours throughout North America and Europe. [44] Peterson once more left the band, starting a T-shirt company with his brother. [45] The band completed the line-up with live drummer Jason Bazinet. [46]

Back to electronic roots and new influences (2012–)

Having integrated guitars into their sound since the late 1980s, either sampled or as live guitars, FLA returned in 2012 to making exclusively electronic music. This change was heard on the soundtrack album AirMech for the video game of the same name at the end of 2012. [47] Comprising only instrumental tracks, AirMech laid some grounds for 2013 full-length album Echogenetic [48] Echogenetic was widely praised by critics, who also noted the dubstep influences on the record, and hit the charts in the United States [49] and in Germany. Entering the official German charts was a first in the band's history. On the occasion of the release of Echogenetic Front Line Assembly announced a remix album [50] which was released in May 2014 under the moniker of Echoes . [51]

Bill Leeb (right) and Jeremy Inkel performing in 2016 20160305-Frontline-Assembly-E-tropolis-Oberhausen-5690.jpg
Bill Leeb (right) and Jeremy Inkel performing in 2016

Shortly after the release of Echogenetic the band started promoting the album with an extensive tour schedule in Europe and North America. In August 2013, Front Line Assembly covered dates in Russia, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and the UK. They continued their tour in Europe in June 2014, playing shows in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden, Finland and France, this time also in support of Echoes. [52] Former member Fulber joined the band for their last European leg in October and November 2014 in Poland and Germany, where they performed with a philharmonic orchestra in Leipzig, a first for the band. [53]

The same month Front Line Assembly returned from Europe, they were asked on short notice to join Leeb's former band Skinny Puppy on their Eye vs Spy North American tour as supporting band after VNV Nation, previously booked for the slot, had opted out. [54] On some dates, Fulber joined them. At the Vancouver show Leeb performed with Skinny Puppy on their encore song Assimilate. [55]

Resuming tour activities, the band gave a number of concerts in September and November 2015. They started off with a show in Vancouver [56] and went on to headline the second day of the Cold Waves industrial festival in Chicago. [57] The accompanying festival CD, released in October, featured an exclusive remix of Next War from Slighter. [58] In November the band followed up with their first show in Mexico City, supported by Mexican electro-industrial band Hocico, and a gig in Guadalajara both of which were also supported by Canadian electro-industrial group Decoded Feedback. [59]

October 2014 saw the return of former long-time band member Rhys Fulber, joining Front Line Assembly on their European tour. [60] In late October 2016, the band announced that a new album was in the making, including contributions by Rhys Fulber, [61] In March 2017 an announcement followed that the successor of sound track album AirMech was ready for release. [62] The band supported industrial rock band Revolting Cocks on their North American tour the same year. [63]

Keyboardist Jeremy Inkel died January 23, 2018 due to complications resulting from an asthma condition, at the age of 34. [64]

In March 2018 the band announced a joint European tour with German electro-industrial band Die Krupps under the moniker of "The Machinists United Tour 2018". [65] The tour will be preceded by the release of the soundtrack album WarMech , successor of 2015's AirMech, in June. Also, the band work on the next regular album. [66]

Name spelling

The Band's name has sometimes been published as "Front Line Assembly" and sometimes as "Frontline Assembly". The former spelling is the most common, and the band's members have stated that the version with three separate words is preferred. [67]


Current members

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

Former members

Member timeline

Front Line Assembly


Studio albums

Side projects and associated acts

In the course of Front Line Assembly's history, current and former band members have engaged in a multitude of musical activities besides Front Line Assembly.

Active bands

Inactive or defunct bands

See also

Related Research Articles

Delerium Canadian band

Delerium is a Canadian ambient electronic musical duo that formed in 1987, originally as a side project of the influential industrial music act Front Line Assembly. Throughout the band’s history, their musical style has encompassed a broad range, including dark ethereal ambient trance, voiceless industrial soundscapes, and electronic pop music. They are best known for their worldwide hit "Silence".

Intermix was a side project of Canadian industrial musicians Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber in the 1990s that initially focused on techno, but included a more ambient style on their last album.

<i>Caustic Grip</i> 1990 studio album by Front Line Assembly

Caustic Grip is the eighth album by Front Line Assembly, originally released on Third Mind Records in Europe and on WaxTrax! Records in the United States in 1990.

<i>Implode</i> (album) 1999 studio album by Front Line Assembly

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<i>(FLA)vour of the Weak</i> 1997 studio album by Front Line Assembly

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<i>Artificial Soldier</i> 2006 studio album by Front Line Assembly

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<i>Live Wired</i> 1996 live album by Front Line Assembly

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<i>The Initial Command</i> 1987 studio album by Front Line Assembly

The Initial Command is the first album released by Canadian industrial band Front Line Assembly, as their first two releases, Nerve War and Total Terror, were demo tapes.

Front Line Assembly, a Canadian Vancouver-based electro-industrial band, has released seventeen studio albums, three live albums, numerous singles and compilations, and two video game soundtracks. With Bill Leeb being the founder and sole permanent member of the band, Michael Balch, Rhys Fulber and Chris Peterson were acting as long-time members during different periods of time. Currently, Jeremy Inkel and Jared Slingerland are official members.

<i>Improvised Electronic Device</i> 2010 studio album by Front Line Assembly

Improvised Electronic Device is the seventeenth album by Vancouver industrial band Front Line Assembly, released in 2010.

<i>Echogenetic</i> 2013 studio album by Front Line Assembly

Echogenetic is the eighteenth studio album by Vancouver industrial band Front Line Assembly, released on July 9, 2013. It was well received both by critics and fans and charted in German and US charts. Critics commented on the band's return to a purely electronic approach and on the dubstep influence on the album. Front Line Assembly toured extensively in Europe and North America in support of this album and remix follow-up Echoes, which included a tour with vocalist and band leader Bill Leeb's former band Skinny Puppy. This was the last studio album to feature Jeremy Inkel before his death in 2018.

<i>Live</i> (Front Line Assembly album) 1989 live album by Front Line Assembly

Live is a live album by Canadian industrial band Front Line Assembly, released in 1989. The album contains recordings from the Gashed Senses & Crossfire tour in Europe. It was released only on vinyl and limited to 4.000 numbered copies. A few copies contained a tour poster.

<i>Monument</i> (Front Line Assembly album) 1998 compilation album by Front Line Assembly

Monument is a compilation album by Canadian industrial band Front Line Assembly, released in 1998. It was re-released on July 30, 2007 through Polish label Metal Mind. The track "Monument" appeared in its original version on the 1993 album Phaze Two of Bill Leebs and Rhys Fulbers side project Intermix. The booklet of the 2007 re-release contains an outline of the band history.

<i>Cryogenic Studios</i> 1998 compilation album by Front Line Assembly, Equinox, Delerium, Pro>Tech and Synæsthesia

Cryogenic Studios is a compilation album that contains songs from several of Canadian electronic musician Bill Leeb's projects including Front Line Assembly, Equinox, Delerium, Pro>Tech, and Synæsthesia. It was released by Cleopatra in 1998. The album title refers to the name of Cryogenic Studio in Vancouver that serves as headquarters studio for Front Line Assembly and related side projects. The Zoth Ommog release for the European market came with a different artwork. All tracks except for "Infra Stellar (Remix)" were re-released in 2005 by Cleopatra on the compilation album The Best of Cryogenic Studio.

<i>Cryogenic Studio, Vol. 2</i> 2000 compilation album by Front Line Assembly, Noise Unit, Delerium, Pro>Tech, Equinox and Synæsthesia

Cryogenic Studio, Vol. 2 is a compilation album, released in 2000, and the follow-up to the 1998 album Cryogenic Studios. It is composed from songs of electronic music bands Front Line Assembly, Noise Unit, Delerium, Pro>Tech, Equinox, and Synæsthesia, all of which are projects of Canadian electronic musician Bill Leeb. The album title refers to the name of Cryogenic Studio in Vancouver that serves as headquarters studio for Front Line Assembly and related side projects. All tracks except "Biosphere", "Eros", "Door to the Otherside", "Miracle", "Inner Chaos", and "Re-Thread" were re-released in 2005 by Cleopatra on the compilation album The Best of Cryogenic Studio, together with most of the tracks from previous compilation album Cryogenic Studios.


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