Like Skinny Puppy before it, Front Line Assembly emerged from Vancouver's thriving industrial-rock scene in the '80s. The group's early releases reveled in sampler abuse, ominous vocals, and sonic terrorism via sequencers, synched to catchy rhythms. In fact, no sample has ever been safe from FLA's studio dissection: horror movies, sci-fi flicks, heavy-metal riffs, political speeches, etc. But with the arrival of studio whiz Rhys Fulber (now an in-demand metal producer), FLA began fleshing out a more unique sound, incorporating spacey soundscapes as well as jackhammer beats perfect for bludgeoning clubbers on industrial night.
Die-hard fans swear by 1992's Tactical Neural Implant, featuring the Blade Runner-inspired "Mindphaser" and the unusually groovy "The Blade" (a track replete with samples from Geraldo and Slayer's "Skeletons of Society"). Artificial Soldier, FLA's 2006 release and the last one to feature all new material, touches upon familiar themes like dystopia and dehumanization, all buried under seizure-inducing synth work. But while the group's records may feel overly mechanical and at times nearly inhuman, FLA in the live setting operates more like a traditional rock band.