The new Front Line Assembly album "Improvised. Electronic. Device" is one of the most personal albums Bill Leeb has ever released. Always afraid of revealing too much in his lyrics, they often take on general subjects like war, oppression, media, society and so on. This time around we hear Bill's reflection over his father's death, a father who died only seven weeks after Bill finally got to meet him. The track "Afterlife" is Bill in mourning, wondering what happens after we die. And it's a superb track as well, soft but with a dark tinge, a husky voice over bubbling synthesizers and acoustic guitars. Bill also sings about the birth country of his mother in "Angriff", about the war ridden Russia.

Making this album seems to have been a struggle for the band - and it's really a band these days, with Bill Leeb, Chris Peterson, Jeremy Inkel and guitarist Jared Slingerland all contributing to the album - because they had some internal struggle while recording it, but were able to pull through and create one the finest albums in the band's career. It's an eclectic collection of songs, with hardcore guitar mayhem residing next to all electronic pieces. Aggression vs contemplation.

I don't know if this is why, but for the first time Jared was part of the song writing process, and some tracks are really staggeringly brutal. "Stupidity" features Al Jourgensen from Ministry on vocals, and was also mixed by him. It's almost over the top aggressive, and sounds more like a Ministry track than a FLA track, but it somehow fits in on the album anyway, since many of the other songs have heavy guitars on them as well. Such as the title track for example, the first song where FLA has experimented with a 5/4 time signature, and it works a treat. It's dark, heavy, brooding, relentless and actually downright awesome.

Bill says that this album is like a climax of all the things they have done in the past, and I can certainly agree with that. It's filled with all the stuff that makes FLA stand head and shoulders above the competition; immaculate production, a sublime mix of guitars and cutting edge electronics, varied and imaginative arrangements, and Bill's voice is suitably psychotic again when it needs to.

I really only have two points of criticism. First is that we have heard some of the choruses before, and second is that the two bonus tracks on the "deluxe edition" are only available digitally, and not on CD. And in further stupidity, the track "Angriff" is both B-side on the single, and on the album. Why not put one more of the unreleased bonus tracks on the single instead? Anyway it's a fantastic album that already has endured a huge amount of play in my little flat. I'm now floating off with the blissful sounds of "Downfall", the instrumental album closer that takes us on a long and powerful ambient post rock journey. Come join me, it's beautiful in here.