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Front By Front

Front 242

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Album Review

Official Version was fantastic, but this album was something else again. Easily one of the greatest industrial albums ever made, bar none, Front by Front hit like a bombshell on its listeners and influenced more bands and songs than can be counted. Even the album art design, with everything from a rough pixel computer font cover to harsh video stills and blunt slogans, is a work of art, perfectly in sync with the electric mania inside (unfortunately, in the late '90s the entire Front 242 catalog was reissued with "high-tech" graphics). From the rampaging start of the album, "Until Death (Us Do Part)," not a single note, sample, guttural syllable, or headache-inducing drum hit is out of place. The album's most deservedly famous track can make an equally good case for being the definite EBM song: "Headhunter." A portrait of capitalism as mercenary terrorism with a wickedly compelling mock orchestral bass providing lead melody, "Headhunter" deserves notice not merely for the pounding music but the astonishing vocal arrangements. Richard 23 and Jean-Luc de Meyer serve up the memorable step-by-step chorus in perfect balance, the latter delivering each step like an order from on high while 23's singing adds on even more frenetic energy. The overall feeling of militaristic, blunt efficiency encompasses music, artwork, and lyrics — thus utterly appropriate song titles like "Circling Overland" and "First In/First Out." "In Rhythmus Bleiben" stands out as a particularly fine song in a series of them, the melange of computer squeals and glitches, building percussion, chaotic vocal samples, and a downright anthemic chorus resulting in one killer tune. The 1992 reissue does the original CD one better by also including another mix of "Headhunter," as well as the entire Never Stop EP.

Biography

Formed: October, 1981 in Brussels, Belgium

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the most consistent industrial bands of the 1980s, even though they regularly pursued a more electronic variant of the sound that swept into vogue during the '90s, Front 242 were the premier exponent of European electronic body music. Initially, the group was just a duo when formed in October 1981 in Brussels; programmers Patrick Codenys and Dirk Bergen recorded "Principles" and released the single on New Dance Records. A year later, programmer Daniel Bressanutti (aka Daniel B. Prothese) and...
Full bio