Alien Ant Farm ‘Always and Forever’ Album Review

The new(ish) record by stateside rockers Alien Ant Farm has been almost 10 years in the making since their last original album with huge anticipation behind  what they could create. So, would it be an ‘anthemic’ hit-generator like their timeless debut ‘Anthology’, or fall flat with the public like ‘Up in the Attic’ had the misfortune of obtaining?

The album starts well with two very reminiscent rock set-pieces that commence the tempo of the record. ‘Yellow Pages’ had a sudden impact on me being an Alien Ant Farm myself since it reminded me very much of ‘Courage’ from the ‘Anthology’ album due to its hard-hitting drum beat, teeth gritting guitar riff and bruising bass line. Dryden Mitchell lends his vocals very well also never ceasing to lose his unique style of singing adopted from the nu-metal scene of the early 2000’s with a killer melody in the chorus to boot.

Coming off of the first track, the good form continued with a hit I was lucky enough to of listened to live, that being ‘Simpatico’. Again with a flowing tom drum beat and grungy bass line growling underneath the well constructed guitar riff, I felt this album was definitely recapturing the fun which has been missing from the stateside rock scene since the departure of the big names from the mainstream.

However, this is where the album comes tumbling down. I almost had to listen to the next section multiple times just to believe that this band could of created such a cliche being. From track 3 until 11, the album becomes instantly forgettable, atrocious in fact. ‘Burning’ starts with a little xylophone or piano or whatever it was meant-to-be  jingle and so proceeds another completely bland pop rock progression; it was weak to put it nicely.

At this point I thought, ‘heck maybe it was just an album filler like San Sebastian’ was in ‘Up in the attic’ but then the signature song ‘Let em know’ flicked on. If over production were a being capable of natural human processes, then this would be after a weekend on the lash full of vomit awaiting to spew out. Auto-tuned vocals, techno/dubstep style bridges and ill-fitting atmospheric effects placed at random, the song was another wannabe commercial mess that had way to much money thrown at it and not enough thought.

The album didn’t let up with the commercial attempts either, in fact it got a whole ton worse. ‘Our Time’ was instantly forgettable and contained a bloody rap bridge! I’m not talking Limp Bizkit or Linkin Park here, I’m just saying it sounds like if Papa Roach were to do a song with Big Sean… It really doesn’t work and that’s the bottom line.

Then the next song on this Coldplay alb-… Wait this isn’t a Coldplay album? Then what the hell is ‘Homage’? Oh a cheap knock off, totally makes sense then… The lyrics are clever, witty even, but my god what are you trying to achieve with this song? A weak piano sequence followed by an even more stereotypical chorus full of all the cheap rock ballad bull**** that has been far too prominent the last decade.

Luckily I can gloss over the next four songs because guess what?More of the same commercial, weak, forgettable, pop rock crap that is the main reason why bands should stick to what they did successfully and not try to mess with a recipe that people aren’t full of yet.

Then ‘Godlike’ hit at number 11 and finally! What a song and by looking on their website, a fan favorite too. Tough, aggressive and most importantly memorable! Another great riff, big bass performance and harsh vocals by Dryden making the listener just want to hit something hard, the way rock should be!

‘Better Weather’ is an interesting one. It doesn’t sound like what you’d think Alien Ant Farm would produce. It’s not fun and catchy, but it is inventive and different with a complex bass sequence that appeals more to the musician in me than the fan; I like that a lot when a band can surprise you with something even when you feel you can predict each next hit. Undeniably my SECOND favorite off of the album since I wouldn’t party to it, but I would pick up a bass and get my fingers stretching whilst I scroll over the best tab selection.

Now, the best song off of the album as well as the last, ‘Dirty Bomb’. These guys sure do know how to finish off an album, ‘Universe’ proved that on their first outing, ‘Shes only evil’ on their last; this one is certainly up there between these too. What more can I say other than… THAT IS HOW YOU MAKE A CHORUS SON! Big is an understatement, the riff in the chorus is so ballsy and tenacious that it serves as the perfect rock pump up song. It combines the complexity of the bass in ‘Better Weather’ with the originality and angst of ‘Simpatico’ which is typical of a listener when wanting to listen to a band like Alien Ant Farm.

Overall then what would I give the album? If I’m honest, it pains me to say it being such a big fan of the band as well as loving certain areas of the record. But I’d be dishonest if I didn’t give it a lower-than-average 5/10. Fans will be disappointed and newbies don’t have enough to glue them in, hopefully they can keep the comeback cruising with high momentum because this album certainly won’t push it back into the public eye.

5/10 – Hint of potential in a ‘snoozeful’ duvet…

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