Long time readers are probably well aware of the fact that I’m a huge fan of Bill Leeb and his projects. Bill and his friends seem to be monitoring me for my current taste, and thus released the hard guitar driven album “Millennium” when I was discovering metal, and the electronica and techno flirt “FLAvour of the Week” when I was into that music. Their last album “Civilization” is for me almost the epitome of their talent, with its blend of Front Line Assembly and Delerium. The track “Dissident” still gives me goose bumps when I listen to it.

Now the new album “Artificial Soldier” has arrived, and it’s a brutal and heavy affair when I’m not much into brutal and heavy affairs. That would probably not bother me much though, were it not for the fact that I get an overwhelming sense of déjà vu while listening to it. FLA do it like they always do; only even more, if that makes sense. Their often marvellous knack for writing great hooks and choruses also seem to have gone missing.

“Buried Alive” has a great chorus though, and it’s also the best song on the album, with its furious breakbeats and ominous layers of ambience. Me like. Me also like “Social Enemy”, a straight up four on the floor dance extravaganza. Guitars make a comeback on some songs, to good chuga chuga effect, notably present on “Dissension” and “Dopamine”, but these tracks don’t really make an imprint on the aural part of my brain.

There is also very little variation to be found. All tracks are upbeat and heavy with no exception – although cunningly hidden after the last songs is “Fawnchopper”, an ambient instrumental – and it leaves no room to catch your breath. It’s a good thing then that the two guest vocalists Jean-Luc De Meyer from Front 242 and Eskil Simonsson from Covenant adds some of their own flavour to the proceedings, on two rather nice tracks, though.

You should note that my score is based on the Leeb scale, where “Tactical Neural Implant” gets a 10, and “State of Mind” get’s a 1. As this is definitely not as good as "TNI", and more in the middle ground between all the other albums, the Leeb-score of 6 fits pretty well, I think. "Artificial Soldier" has some great parts on it, and it’s still better than most other hard industrial bands out there! It's also a grower.

I also know for a fact that a lot of people really love this album, and if you thought “Civilization” was slow and boring, and want your Leeb furious and angry, this is right up your alley. But you’re not writing this review, now are you?


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