Founded in Vancouver, Canada, Front Line Assembly is an electro and industrial band with three members: Bill Leeb, Jeremy Inkel and Jared Slingerland. Leeb put the group together in 1986, following his departure from Skinny Puppy, a group that operated in a similar musical niche. Leeb was interested in the post-industrial sounds emanating from groups such as Test Dept, Cabaret Voltaire and Severed Heads. Leeb, who had little formal training in music, put together some ideas with Rhys Fulber, also from Vancouver but of German and British descent. The two later teamed up with Chris Peterson, who would go on to become a successful producer.
Front Line Assembly's early music
Leeb had operated as a solo musician for a short time before putting together his Nerve War demo. Leeb would later collaborate with Fulber on a follow-up demo called Total Terror. However, it was not until 1987 that the burgeoning sound of the band would make its way onto an official release. Front Line Assembly's track “Aggression” was included on a sampler LP put out by the UK record label, Third Mind, bringing the group to a much wider audience of industrial fans for the first time.
At the end of 1987, the band released their debut album on an independent Belgian label, KK. It was called The Initial Command and would feature the musicianship of Michael Balch, another early member. A follow-up on German label Dossier followed the next year. State of Mind was a continuation of the ideas expressed in the previous work but the production values were higher.
Front Line Assembly's breakthrough
Working closely with Fulber, Leeb wrote Caustic Grip, an album that would be unleashed on the public in 1990. Unlike some earlier works, it was released in both Europe and the United States. It cemented the band's sound and was critically well received. Two singles were taken from Caustic Grip and these were praised in UK music press, for instance by Melody Maker. MTV chose to show the video of “Iceolate” several times.
With greater public interest, Front Line Assembly toured North America in early 1991. This tour was extended to include a European leg, which featured Peterson as a performer. At this time, the band released “Virus” as a one-off single.
In 1992, Tactical Neural Implant came out. It was significantly more melody-laden than earlier albums. However, Front Line Assembly soon returned to their industrial roots in 1999 with Implode, and Epitaph, which followed two years later. By 2010, both Inkel and Slingerland had been recruited as permanent members.