Front 242 "TYRANNY > FOR YOU <"

(RRE, 1991)

Front 242 spent the first half of the 80s creating the so called Electronic Body Music, which was a very dancefloor oriented, hard electronical music style with less singing but frequent use of quite unusual samples. They started to become present in the clubs and finally drew major attention with the single "Headhunter" (featuring an Anton Corbijn video) and the following album "Front By Front". "Tyranny > For You <" was released next. After that the band changed their style and personnel with a 1993 double release, going into two different directions with a more guitar/ industrial approach on "06:21:03:11 Up Evil" and an electronic/ trance female vocal album called "05:22:09:12 Off". Since then Front 242 have been less productive (only releasing one more, rather weak studio album thus far) but given several concerts over the years (the updated versions of their original material for live shows were released on their 1998's "[:Re:Boot:(L. IV. E ])", which was their best CD after 1993).

SACRIFICE A creeping monster with a sinister, ominous sound world where the dramatic vocals nearly get lost. A slow, atmospheric entrance signals that this album delivers a little more than what the average EBM record would deal with. "They did raze tomorrow to the ground..." - With words like this to open an album you really set the tone and start a voyage of doom. Or, let's say, a tyranny. 8.0

RHYTHM OF TIME This was the album's second single and it marches in more familiar sound structures: driving rhythm, appregiated bass lines, low voice by Jean-Luc de Meyer accompanied by forcing background vocals by Richard 23, and chaotic sampling. There is even a melody here which makes this track one of the more approachable ones. 8.0

MOLDAVIA Basically a techno track, just that your usual club track would come up with a stronger bassdrum and a less deconstructive attitude towards its repetitiveness. Hypnotic bass thunder, rooting screams and a sample like alien trumpets on fire are drilling right in your central nervous system. A trip through hell that for my liking could have been a little longer. Now you're an electric insect? Well, I just might believe that. 9.0

TRIGGER 2 (Anatomy of A Shot) Continuing at a similar pace and giving us some more of the cold little beats. This track is more percussive than its predecessor and does without the multi-layered, filling bass. Quite an old school Front 242 piece but benefiting from the 1991 production level. No vocals here, but additional use of voice and voicelike samples makes up for it. 7.0

GRIPPED BY FEAR Back to a slower pace and the menacing end of the world atmosphere that the opener created. Beautiful lyrics are recited by a distorted voice to create somewhat of a sad mood, regardless of the hard drum sounds. Less sampling, therefore more of a song structure. The theme is further examined on the mini album "Mixed by Fear" of the same year. 7.5

TRAGEDY > FOR YOU < First single and one of the popular Front 242 tracks (I don't know if the term 'hit' would be appropriate here). Flickering synthie plays the hookline, the bass is spreading out panoramawise and the chorus is perfect to sing along (or bawl along for that matter). Again great over the top sampling. 9.0

THE UNTOLD Starts with a screech and a bass that feels its way slowly. A higher appregiator bass leads into a louring soundtrack of twenty fallen angels heading for salvation, with De Meyer sounding like a sect priest and even the breaks giving no relief. 7.0

NEUROBASHING You may dance again. This one is a real killer and contains that very vocal samples that seem to have the same importance to Front 242 as their actual sung vocals. Hey poor, I'm gonna be ready... They are like a shouting coach trying to motivate a swimmer at an endurance test. Great club track that stays in the rhythm. 9.0

LEITMOTIV 136 A little more restrained, a percussive piece that heavily relies on its vocal scraps. But with less energy in that track they are just not that effective. Filler that provides nothing new to this album (though not really being bad). 5.5

SOUL MANAGER For the official album finale we are treated again with that forceful, low vocals in dark and moody atmosphere that builds itself out of dashing snares and buzz saw like sounds. Still, it would have been more consistent to give the synthesizers and vocals more presence. But at least you have a nice teaser ending. 6.5

There are two hidden tracks that I will not rate but mention. They are CD exclusive.

HARDROCK Hardcore sampling to begin with. But then: the beat! I guess they put a few delays to the bassdrum. It's plain crazy. Even the synths are kind of roasted.

TRIGGER 1 Obviously a version of track number four. Brings not much novelty to it, it seems just a little more melodious.

[Artwork] Typical Front 242: They have a visual concept here, with symbols and repeating images. It is not really opulent, but that would not fit the music anyway. But what you get has style. 7.0

Conclusion They called it Dancefloor Soundtrack Music, and that hits the nail on the head pretty good. It is somewhat of a departure from their EBM style, with more complex, atmospheric sound structures. It is sinister and heavy and in my mind constitutes together with their '93 releases their creative pinnacle so far. The sound mix probably seems nowadays a little imperfect, but for me Front 242 never actually embodied perfection. They always appeared to let out emotions and ideas in a raw, direct way. That is part of what makes them unique. Overall Rating: 7.59

May 2007