Bill Leeb (keyboards, vocals) formed the Canadian underground “band” Front Line Assembly around 1985 out of Vancouver BC, Canada. For a few months, Leeb’s attention was split with another band called Skinny Puppy, before finally turning his full attention to cultivating FLA.
FLA’s music is described as electro-industrial, decidedly cutting edge for a fledgling band in 1985. The synthesizers that were a vital part of the New Wave era were starting to turn a bit more serious and brooding mid-to-end of the 80’s decade. Even Gary Numan, considered by many to be the Godfather of Electronica, switched gears to create music that was moody and contemplative. New Wave’s popularity was showing signs of waning, while industrial, goth, dream pop, house, grunge, and shoegaze began to take hold.
Leeb recorded and produced a demo tape titled Nerve War in 1986. Only 50-100 copies of Front Line Assembly’s official debut were made and distributed. Shortly after, Rhys Fulber (keyboards, percussion) joined ranks with Leeb and together they produced a second full-length demo, Total Terror.
In 1987, Front Line Assembly debuted its first official album, The Initial Command. Michael Balch (keyboards) joined the duo about this time. As FLA’s popularity and name recognition grew, the trio ended up releasing State of Mind outside of Canada to a worldwide audience.
The three members continued their collaboration which culminated into releasing two EPs Corrosion and Disorder. These two compilations were later combined into a full album, Convergence.
The next album, Gashed Senses And Crossfire, netted a single “Digital Tension Dementia” which fueled the band’s underground popularity. Ed-FM played this song during this weeks’ Retrospect show from CFRC-FM, catching my attention and leading to this feature. About this time in the band’s evolution, Balch left Front Line Assembly to join Ministry.
Front Line Assembly has weathered many line-up changes over the years, and currently continues to record and perform live. I have listed only those titles in their discography released through 1991 because this blog focuses on 80’s music. For a full listing of their catalog and to find out shat FLA si up to today, check out Wikipedia and the Front Line Assembly MySpace site. If you prefer your 80’s electronica edgy, serious, and accompanied by a dollop of angst, FLA is definitely worth your time to discover.
“Digital Tension Dementia” via YouTube user djoscafox:
“Nerve War” via YouTube user Akira625:
“Total Terror” via YouTube user Akira625:
“Provision” via YouTube user MetalKael:
1986: Nerve War
1986: Total Terror
1987: The Initial Command
1988: State of Mind
1989: Gashed Senses and Crossfire
1990: Caustic Grip