Front Line Assembly > FLAvour of the Weak

Regular Album Cover / Promo Artwork / Unconfirmed White Cover

Off Beat SPV 085-43792, Energy ERCD 112, US-Metropolis 077.


01 Corruption (8:00)
02 Sado Masochist (6:24)
03 Auto Erotic (6:20)
04 Colombian Necktie (6:53)
05 Evil Playground (8:42)
06 Comatose (6:34)
07 Life=Leben (6:39)
08 Predator (7:35)

-09 Hidden Track: Bill In A Box (~2.00)

All tracks written / produced / mixed by Bill Leeb and Chris Peterson @ Cryogenic Studio, Vancouver BC Canada. All edits by Adam Drake. Mastered @ Future Disk by Tom Baker. Design, illustration & photography by Dave McKean @ Hourglass. Band Photography by Jamie Griffiths / Spiral Eye Prod. (C) 1997.


First reaction : wonderful!

Basically, the main difference is in the rhythmics which are radically different to the "traditional FLA" sound, creative and up-to-date rhythms that remind me of the originality of "Tactical Neural Implant". The other difference is how it sounds overall : more fashion-techno, not too much, just somehow in the spirit of the electro scene nowadays. Experienced techno listeners will recognize at times some sound sources that were pirated, like LFO, Prodigy, Chemical Brothers and others, but this time it is less evident than the Aphex Twin sound clips of the previous release. And the last difference mentionable : the vocals. More instruental songs than usual, and softer use of Leeb's vox. Still very modified, but no pain or agony in it, Leeb sings quietly, very quietly at times, but the vocal processing is as creative as on "Tactical", which makes this a very good improvement.

All the differences are very cohesive together but i'd like to say to long-time FLA fans : this is not a revolution. The style is easily identifiable, it can't be anything other Front Line Assembly : they changed the sounds, they changed the rhythmics, but yeah Leeb is still there, bringing his own philosophy into it (just look the titles...) and the gothic-like slow melodies appear everywhere (Fulber's ghost floating around?). For me it sounds like the logical following to Hard Wired but hopefully with less saturation of the bandwidth and a nice evolution of the style.

Corruption :
A really nice intro for the album that sets the standards of your listening session. An instrumental that feels like a very sophisticated Noise Unit song, strange rhythms at times (between break-beat and drum&bass;), a song that makes surprising changes throughout its play, at times it's noisy, at times it's rhythmic, at times it's melodic, never boring!

Sado-Masochism :
The title is appealing. As is the intro, lasting a minute and a half. Then the song begins, very rhythmed, very techno noisy style, hard to describe but the style is unique, Leeb is talking instead of singing, the chorus is more typical of FLA, catchy and melodic where Leeb sings for real now, this is special. Again a song that evolves in an unpredictable way, this is a very strong one, a wonder! How can it be so noisy and so catchy?

Auto-Erotic :
what a strange title. Starts with bits of noise and break-beat, then becoming a massive analog assault on slow break-beats, wow! Leebs does like a "rap" with a very processed soft voice. Again the chorus is more melodic. I have no words to describe the ambience of this song, loud, masive, frightening at times, impressive, it takes control of you, it is very strong. Just try it. Another wonder.

Colombian Necktie :
again a strange title. This is the first single to be released for this album. This one is a more classic FLA track, more in the "Hard Wired" fashion but less agressive, with vocal styling that fits with previous songs. It is a good one but I don't understand the choice of it as a single, after hearing the previous ones, I find it less innovative.

Evil Playground :
another instrumental. It begins as an ambient song, slow rythmics, using processed samples, and having a style that reminds me of recent Delerium stuff, then it becomes more agressive, heavier, faster, more techno, in the approach used in Noise Unit, like the first song. Nearly as surprising as the first song (especially for the rhythmic style), this is a very good one, unusual for an FLA album, very creative.

Comatose :
This is another very typical FLA track but a very good one, built on break-beat a la Prodigy, strong bassline, hard drive, very groovy, I think that this one will have great success among the fans. More in Hard-Wired fashion, with typical melodies well used, very great abrasive techno sounding, typical Leeb singing, melodic chorus, a song built on a well-proven recipe that works again.

Life=Leben :
Starts with kind of military or parade drumming that becomes a two-minute long intro to a very unique song. That intro is first filled with analog noises and samples, then brings a simple surprising bass melody, brings additional drumming, then becomes a very hard "Caustic Grip"-style song but really adapted to today's sound of FLA. A more melodic chorus with an unprocessed Leeb voice signing for real, almost unrecognizable when he uses his natural voice! This song then makes many changes, unique catchy melodies appear when least expected, kinds of melody never used before on unusual synth sounds, perfect beats, and many surprises, gets back to its Caustic style at times, huh! it is really difficult to describe this one but for me it was the biggest surprise on the album. Being so atypical but no one else than FLA would have done it, yeah these guys can be so creative! A killer one!

Predator :
I like this one a lot because it can't be easily described in terms of another style or another project. It is a nearly-instrumental song that is unique. Long and slow, not as slow as Delerium, not as fast as Noise Unit. Sequential construction. Many samples, more than other songs. More pirating (as much as Intermix did). Modern and varied beats. Noticeable influence from the "intelligent techno" scene. Melodic. Hidden vocals here and there. The least I can say is that is very unusual as a FLA track.

The hidden track :
The last track of the album hides another instrumental song after less than a minute of silence. Be prepared. It is a pure industrial non-melodic experimental track. Never heard anything like this from Leeb. Imagine a hyper-abrasive, destructive synth noise loop that repeats again and again, so loud, dominating over everything, in my mind I see a kind of agonizing TB-303 pushed at limits. Under that appears first a simple drum loop, then added loops of processed bits of "percolating" vocal samples mixed together. Dark and disturbing, and causes earache.

In my mind this is the most creative album of the band since "Tactical Neural Implant", the one that many fans were waiting for. I hope this one will sell more than previous to encourage Leeb to continue his work!

Have a nice listen.

Reviewed by Bernard Bastien aka Neologue
Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Review from Kerrang! at time of release

'[FLA]vour Of The Weak'

NOT, in fact. yet another in a lengthy succession of Front Line Assembly compilations. Or another live album, but the Vancouver cyborgs' ninth studio rampage. Twelve years in the business, and they're still raving strong.
Not that there haven't been changes. Last year saw Front Line man Rhys Fulber leave to concentrate in production work with the likes of Cubanate and Fear Factory. In his stead, band founder Bill Leeb has downloaded regular FLA live performer Chris Peterson, Fulber, besides apparently naming most of the albums ('[FLA]vour 0f the Weak' is abysmal}, surely steered the band into increasingly guitar-oriented realms on the last two powerful albums, 'Millennium' and 'Hard Wired'. As Leeb is well known to be less metal-minded than his long-lime cohort, fans will have fully expected him to take Front Line Assembly back to it's hard electronic roots. They've been proved quite right, but bearing in mind the current proliferation of tech no-metal crossover bands, it's not such a backwards step as you might fear. You can have too much of a good thing, and FLA are clearly taking pleasure in coming full circle.
No guitars? No worries. These tracks are deadly. After all, Front Line were writing potential soundtracks for "Terminator 2" years before it was a twinkle in James Cameron's eye. Their music is just as heavy and abrasive without guitars as it was with them, '[FLA]vour Of The Weak' features zero six-String action. Attacking instead with massive, throbbing virtual basslines and a disorientating cornucopia of electro-spasms. Few of the songs stand still for a moment, leaping unpredictably all over the place. While this occasionally means that tracks merge into one another, the experience as a whole is amazing. If ever there was an album tailor-made for headphones, this is it.
As always, the vocals are almost subliminal, and partially derived from samples, but tracks like 'Autoerotic' and 'Columbian Necktie' (great song titles, as ever) are equally aggressive as anything on those last two guitar-splattered albums. The sole laid-back moment comes with the closing 'Predator', which is the most out-there piece FLA have assembled in years.
Plug in, freak out.

Jason Arnopp

From Naked Truth issue 9 1997
Frontline Assembly
FLAvour of the Weak

I know, I know� the worst possible CD title ever! FLA� geddit? God, whoever was responsible for that one needs a PUNch in the THRoat! Anyway, what�s important is that this new CD is simply brilliant. Rhys Fulber�s guitars are gone and instead Chris Peterson�s electronic meanderings are now the electro-jam on Bill Leeb�s cyber-toast! Don�t expect any dancefloor hits on this - Leeb has finally fused all the various elements from all his other side-projects into producing this new sound which sits comfortably in the new �electronica� genre. At first listen the music seems almost directionless, confusing - no verse-chorus-verse this - it�s more broken up, segmented, but stiched together to make a very appealing whole. Excellent for listening to, but nearly impossible to dance to� unless you�re REALLY pissed� and on your own� in the dark! Bill Leeb�s project has finally matured and this release must surely silence all those critics who slam him for churning out the same old stuff every time. Gone are all the obvious �electro� clich�s, replaced instead by surprising changes in pace and direction culminating in a very strong release.

(!DUBS!) [8/10]

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