Saturday, 29 September 2018

Front Line Assembly "Warmech" (2018)

Fun fact, on my way to a Plini gig I arrived at the wrong venue. These Canadian Industrial veterans were playing there, I wouldn't of minded watching them too. Its been many years since I last checked in with FLA. I remember them as having the classic synthetic, Electronic, Gothic leaning Industrial sound which I grew to love through the likes of Frank Klepacki. In the 90s they flirted with Industrial Metal after Ministry laid the path, just before its commercial peak with Antichrist Superstar in 96.

Being out of the loop, I was unaware that Warmech was the soundtrack to an RTS game called AirMech Wastelands on Steam. That might explain why this record wasn't what I expected. The Industrial sounds I anticipated linger beyond a solid core of modern Electronic and EDM styles that aim to build atmospheres with music that's not in your face yet rich with synthetic instruments coercing an environmental approach that draws in the meditative vibe VGM requires to let the player drift in and out of focus from the soundtrack. At seventy three minutes its a long listening stretch clearly, better suited to its intended purpose of semi-distracted gaming sessions.

Considering these are old, experienced minds at work I did not expect to hear the sub wobbles and drops of Dubstep working angles on the music. Their seasoned selves showed as the drops refrain from being overly bombastic and obnoxious, resulting in a crafty execution of trendy techniques. With hard thudding kick and snare grooves the songs often cruise into EDM territory with some faster percussive loops leaning towards Drumstep. Like with Metal, Electronic music can so easily blur many lines and show influences. Whatever may be on display its composition holds onto that craft for detailed arrangements of instruments and industrial sounds that give the atmosphere conjured a depth of field. Better yet this detail extends into the musics progression as the songs make shifts and breaks with animated sequences of sound that often play like machines firing up their gears and getting into transitional motion.

Across its seventy plus minutes a healthy amount of variety unfolds however it does suffer a little when exclusively in focus, slow tempos and drawn out melodies show a desire to not be intrusive. The best way to enjoy these songs is when focused on a task, then it becomes meditative and helps one focus while creating vivid soundscapes. As a result of that tone its most ambitious melodies and epic synth chords get pushed back in the musics attention as that and a lack of vocals never try to steal the show from the game it was made for. If not for the soundtrack some adjustments and vocals could of made this a great traditional record too.

Rating: 6/10