Style: Industrial, Electronic, Alternative.
Similar artists: Front Line Assembly, SPK, Consolidated.
Recording year: Wax Trax, 1987.
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 lead vocalist Jean-Luc de Meyer joined as well; dubbed Front 242 because of the name's universal meaning and united connotations, the quartet debuted in 1982 with the single "U-Men" and album Geography, recorded for Red Rhino Europe Records (RRE).
On this amazing album, Front 242 came into its own, its brutal electrobeat now helping to fully define industrial in the broadest sense of the term. Daniel B and Codenys together whip out a series of chilling but always just danceable enough full body slams, showing an increased depth and sophistication in the overall arrangements, while 23 and de Meyer deliver their shouted and emotionless vocals with the force of full command. When the two share their vocals via traded-off lines or, often, simultaneous singing, the contrast between 23's slightly more breathless and de Meyer's sterner approach increases the overall appeal. The band's ear for vivisection by sampling reaches new heights: endless series of cries, random words, and more are looped and tweaked throughout nearly every song, a good example being the title word on "Aggressiva Due." Meanwhile, the sampled televangelist on "Angst" clearly paves the way for "Welcome to Paradise" a few years in the future. The two peaks of the album are its singles, both of which showcase equally gripping approaches.