After being rather harsh and slating Alien Ant Farm’s newer album we thought we would head back and look at where it all originally started with their first LP they ever released. The year was 1999, Nu-Metal was the new ‘in-thing’ for rock/metal and everyone was counting down towards what life would be like after the millennium. So how would the little band from Riverside, California do with their first attempt to break the big time?
The album was released independently and on hearing back, you can tell it was just a simple list of demos that were made to supply content to follow. So with the production quality lacking so heavily, is it even worth the listen? Hell yeah it is. The album is called ‘Greatest Hits’ which is a funny little poke at the music industry to have for a first album but it is more than fitting in all honesty. With songs like Movies, Universe, These Days and Slick Thief (Smooth Criminal cover), it kind of works since it’s almost like a compilation of concepts for what would go on to be some of their most commercially popular hits.
The album starts with These Days which is a classic stateside hit which encapsulates everything fun with this type of music. Quirky lyrics, catchy melody, rough and tough guitar riffs and booming drum sequences, the song is a fan favorite without doubt. It was brilliant on the Truant album and just as strong on this album also.
Pink Tea is next and actually one of my personal favorites by Alien Ant Farm as a whole. A great guitar riff followed up with very psychedelic lyrics which all works well to create a song very un-typical of the genre. It shows the bands flexibility and how they aren’t afraid to add a bit of variation in there to keep you on your toes.
Movies is next and what more can be said about the song. It was a decade defining hit for stateside rock and one of the most memorable tunes to come from the band. Clearly they knew the catchy-ness and its commercial potential because when they banged in on Anthology with a higher production value, the song came to critical success selling massively and being a staple that everyone recognizes.
Dole Roll, Denigrate and Solution Time are the next three songs to feature on the album and it was clear that they were on there to showcase some more song-writing capabilities as well as just to show some more variation; to show that they aren’t one trick ponies. Though these aren’t quite to the standard of many others on the album, I still enjoy them greatly and admire the thought put into creating them.
S.S. Recognize is the next track and it’s much heavier, darker and rougher than the other songs. Dryden puts on much harsher vocals and the guitar is heavily in minor playing a riff that is progressively dark. Of course it was re-recorded with success in the future for Alien Ant Farm but it was interesting them showing a much darker tone to their music. This might perhaps suggest in the future to why anthems like Sticks and Stones as well as Whisper were made so unpredictably coarse. It works incredibly well and I actually find Alien At Farms rougher side much more exciting; very unique also.
Nova Hands is a great track utilizing bass tapping and Dryden’s immense range. Though the song isn’t very polished and the transitions are very rough, there is perhaps the best inhale vocal scream of all time placed within there which catches you off guard yet blows your mind. Another dark but satisfying song.
Universe is the penultimate track and for a couple here at Music Season, one of the best ever made by Alien Ant Farm. With a prog-rock flowing riff, harmonies and textures that bounce from rough to smooth, from dark to light, it works very well and is one of the longest track Alien Ant Farm ever created. It is no wonder they ended Anthology with this track because the song is unbelievable and is perfect for rounding off a brilliant album.
Slick Thief is the final track and it is the bands first go at replicating Smooth Criminal in a hard rock tone. Funnily enough this recording does it no justice and sounds very rough as well as just being a very poor version of the pop classic. If I had listened to this when it came out, I would of been disappointed and would of found it difficult to spot potential, but someone did, and whoever they were was a genius. I find it funny how a rough song like this managed to end up being one of the highest selling rock songs of the ‘noughties’.
So all in all? A rough album sure and certainly not to everyone taste either. But from a musical stand-point and from a potential perspective, the album was a blue print to the bands later success. A perfect example of forward thinking when creating an independent LP. 7/10 from Music Season.
GAP Rating: 7/10 – Rough but full of charm and individuality.
IAP Rating: 8/10 – No wonder they blew up after this LP.