ROIT, 3rd Mind, Wax Trax!, KK, Dossier.
These are among the umpteen labels that Belgium-based Front Line Assembly has been on in the past seven years.
As a spinoff of the much more successful Front 242, Front Line Assembly typifies the Belgian industrial sound: synthesized Juju and Burundi beats over layers of samples and a grunting vocalist.
Such was the meat and potatoes of the band’s gig at the Palace. That and TV screens behind the writhing singer provided all of the watchable activity onstage.
Because industrial acts wrap themselves in the cloak of anonymity, they rely not only on the incessant pounding of a repetitious beat, but also on a psyched-out audience ready to go bonkers at the drop of a programmed beat.
This didn’t occur for Front Line Assembly at the Palace. The recession has hurt even industrial music buffs, leaving shows like this sparsely attended.
Without a big, fervent house to play off, Front Line Assembly seemed to go through the motions, and although a few of the faithful seemed mesmerized, it was an uninspiring evening.
The band was actually good in spite of itself. Yes, Front Line is a pro forma industrial act in the worst sense of the genre–predictable and monotonous at times and desperately in need of some fresh blood.
But they’re also adept at the kind of tugging rhythms that Front 242 and Nitzer Ebb have so much trouble with.
Front Line Assembly’s grooves have genuine forward motion if very little substance, and with a few more warm bodies in the house, they could have rocked their corner of the world very nicely.