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Austrian born electronic musician Bill (born Willhelm) Leeb got his first start in the early 80s with friends and fellow Vancouver locals "Skinny Puppy" under the moniker of Willhelm Schroeder. Playing synth bass with the band live and having a few of his bass lines appear on 1985 "Bites" album were Leebs first encounter with the insturment he would grow to favour later on. He also had stints doing backing vocals for 1986's "Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse"Read More...
It was around this time that Bill Leeb decided to part ways with Skinny Puppy and pursue his own musical interests, culminating in a number of cassette releases around 1986 such as “Nerve War" and "Total Terror" which have since been re-mastered and reissued for CD. 1987's "The Initial Command" was more experimental than previous releases and stands out as a bit of an oddity in Front Line Assembly's extensive discography. 1988 saw the release of “Convergence" "Corroded Disorder" and "State of Mind" which would help to establish FLA's aggressive industrial influenced take on electronic body music of the early 80s. 1989 saw the release of "Gashed Senses & Crossfire" along with FLA's first European tour. This release included hard-electro club hits "Digital Tension Dementia" and "No Limit".
1989 also saw the first release of FLA's Delerium side project in the form of "Morpheus". Delerium would continue to evolve over the years to include collaborations with other artists notably female vocalist (such as the collaboration with Sarah McLachlan for the track "Silence" off 1997's Karma album) Delerium also became a major source of funding for Bill Leeb and company’s FLA and related endeavours, due to its more appeasing mainstream qualities and extensive radio air play.
1991 and 1992 saw the release of two pivotal albums which would solidify FLA's signature sound. The first of which was "Caustic Grip" featuring the sampling wizardry of Rhys Fulber along with Bill's grinding and abrasive bass lines. 1992 saw FLA receive recognition from an unexpected source by winning MTV's best music video for Mindphaser's visually stunning footage of a failed Japanese Mecha movie spliced alongside scenes of Bill and Rhys wandering a mechanical maze of wires and techno garbage (and looking a little like Bladerunner extras while doing it). "Mindphaser" was a slightly different step from the lineage of GS&CF and Caustic Grip but no less powerful with relentless pounding bass rhythms and rich synthesized layering.
Caustic Grip and Mindphaser are often cited as major sources of influence and all FLA output afterwards (although great in their own respect) do not hold up as well as these early yet technically masterful specimens of hard repetitive electronic music.
1994 saw a stylistic change with the release of their first guitar heavy output in the form of "Millennium". The aptly titled lead track "Vigilante" contained numerous samples of Michael Douglas' "D-FENS" character from 1993's best feature length movie "Falling Down” making this the best track on the album. An attempt to incorporate rap elements through collaboration with "Che the Minister of Defense" from P.O.W.E.R. resulted in the track "Victim of a Criminal" which was received with mixed results. However at a time when members of future, popular, but far less interesting "rap metal" groups were still in grade school, some credit is due? The album somehow winds its way down to an almost ambient outro featuring layers upon layers of sampling from movies such as "Reservoir Dogs" resulting in an ominous track titled "Sex Offender."
1995 saw the release of "Hard Wired" with a return to FLA's purely electronic roots and minus the fast, however effective, guitar riffs of "Millennium". The opening track "Neologic Spasm" and the plummeting minimalist bass lines of "Circuitry" stand out. This, made 11 years ago, would still be unrivaled by most if not all electronic body music acts today.
There would be no full length output from FLA until 1999's "Implode" featuring cover art of a mutating man who appears to be giving birth to a giant dung beetle twin on his back. 2001 saw the release of "Epitaph" and 2003 saw the release of FLA's "Civilization" an album which at times shows glimpses of Leeb's sense of reserved grief at the direction which our race is headed. The pounding opening track "Psychosomatic" along with the sample and sequence heavy "Trategic" echo sounds of a younger FLA, however the moody and at times ambient "Civilization" album would have also worked as a Delerium release.
2005 saw the release of yet another side project release in the form of Noise Unit’s "Voyeur" featuring Leeb and company's continued electronic/rhythmic experiments. Currently the FLA camp is gearing up for a new release in 2006 along with a North American and European tour.