I’m proud to be a long-term fan of Front Line Assembly. They have and will always have a special place in my musical heart. With equal parts of curiosity and devotion, I followed them experimenting with the entire spectrum of electro-industrial music, both as FLA and through their numerous side-projects. Therefore, I’ve always been prepared to expect the unexpected on every new album. Of course, when I discovered that one of the singles which anticipated their brand new LP Wake Up the Coma was a cover of Falco’s Rock Me Amadeus, I thought for a while that this time they had really “jumped the shark”. In reality, however, once I had the chance to hear the whole record, my concerns were quickly dissolved.
First of all, it’s important to say that in this new iteration the band’s style has become purely electronic. All the distorted guitars and the heavy riffs that did justify for some time the presence of a guitarist as a permanent member of their live gigs have now disappeared. Similarly, we have neither the deep and meditative atmospheric sections of the Civilization phase (which I really loved, to be honest). What do we have then in Wake Up The Coma? It’s simple: compact and thick electro-industrial with strong bass loops, danceable rhythms, flashes of synths, and vocals. The overall style oscillates between relatively catchy moments (like the opening song Eye on You or Structures), and heavier, slower and gloomy tracks. The first kind of songs, in my opinion, is definitely the best of the record.
May this be considered as a return to the origins? Not really, principally because we don’t have today the complexity and the rawness of their early works. Evidently, going through the most accessible regions of electronic music has left a tangible mark in their music. We’re in a sort of intermediate region: their sound is certainly easier to assimilate when compared with their first albums, but at the same time it’s far from the melodic and ambient-like tunes we enjoyed in more recent times.
For longtime fans of the band, Wake up the Coma gives the possibility to appreciate the stylistic synthesis of many different moments that have been experienced by Front Line Assembly in their long career. Maybe there is an excess of simple and linear beat sequences, which in some cases become a basic and dancefloor kind of four quarters, but in the end, the songs are never too mundane or flat. On the other hand, however, some of the new songs don’t show the freshness, the creativity and to some extent the “urgency” of their best works. That said, my overall judgment on “Wake up the Coma” is definitely positive, even if the LP is not that absolute masterpiece that I was dreaming of. If I had to give a rating, I would say 8/10, even if I want to take the opportunity to revise it in a couple of months, once I will be more familiar with those few tracks that today don’t allow me to go to higher values.
In the context of their entire discography, Wake Up the Coma is for sure another good entry in the large catalogue of albums released by Front Line Assembly. In particular, it looks like the band has reached another stable state of their continuous evolution. The result is an album with a remarkable number of potential hits like we didn’t have from them for many years.
Favourite songs: Mesmerized, Albeit, Living a Lie, Eye on You and Structures. It’s easy to see that these are among the more “danceable” songs of the LP.