Sound: The first association that comes to your mind when you hear Alien Ant Farm is Smooth Criminal and ...yeah, they have that fat dude on bass! Unfortunately it's not even nearly true now. Deadly tour bus crash in 2002, line-up changes, breakdown records, problems with a record label -- the black cloud left a mark on the mood and the relationship in the band. A few years of silence and a few persuading the record label to release the album, and Up In The Attics reached store shelves on the 18th of July under New door/Ume records and the slogan Alien Ant Farm strikes back!!!!
After years of trying to grow up and mature in different directions, prove something to someone, Alien Ant Farm returned to what they started from. In Up In The Attics they tried to get back to the rocking formula that brought them success with 2001's platinum ANThology. Working on the album the band claims they managed to get back to the mood they were in rocking out in their bedrooms. To multiply the effect, AFF even returned to their original producer Jim Wirt (1999's Greatest Hits) and ANThology producer Jay Baumgardner (Papa Roach, Seether), who this time was in charge of mixing.
Up in the Attics starts with a wake-up call in Bad Morning, which is pretty symbolic for an album aimed to be a wake-up call for the band and its fans. There are some crunchy guitar chords, some aggressive riffs as well as heavy-sounding solos. What I Feel Is Mine has some annoying guitar gammas. The first single Forgive and Forget is the catchiest song on the record, though not the best one. Around The Block can become next Good (For A Woman) and make a good soundtrack for any American Pie-like movie. There are some interesting melodies in some tracks, like in It Could Happen that features as well shotgun drums.
The first part of the album goes back to the days of ANThology and can somehow be related to metal or hard rock, while the second part takes its roots in 2003's predecessor truANT and is mellow and much more melodic. This is not to say its not expressive -- probably the most eccentric track on the album is the closer She's Only Evil. At the end of the record Alien Ant Farms leaves a space for some fun -- I.e. a couple interesting hidden tracks. The first one has ethnic harmonies and wonderful bleating singing accomplished with a sound of Russian balalaika. The second hidden song starts as a chaotic impromptu that later on finds its form in some kind of a resemblance of an instrumental. These two are probably the biggest excitement of the album. Kudos to Alien Ant Farm, brave move! // 8
Lyrics: Are actually filled with some sense and can be called meaningful, being comprehensible at the same time. Good to know AFF didn't loose their sense of humor after they have matured (according to Mitchell). A lot of raw emotions come from Dryden Mitchell's passionate singing -- he reaches higher notes with a restrained voice, which works perfect for the hard rock part of AAF's image. But when it comes to lower tones, his vocals are pretty weak. // 7
Overall Impression: Seems like after a number of misfortunes and disasters that happened to Alien Ant Farm, the guys became superstitious -- they believe that with the new record they've got a chance for a second lease on life. Releasing Up In The Attics together with a DVD BUSted, the put big hopes on the buzz around their comeback. The hopes are not baseless, I should say -- even though Alien Ant Farm most definitely would never repeat the success of a Smooth Criminal, the current record is solid and will make a good competition to the rockbands on the market.
Up In The Attics pretty much proves the fact the band's still got some fuel both to rock and have fun! They're just getting ready to tour in support of their third major label album, so watch out for them! (Though in the Tour section on their website there's a peaceful little ship now instead of a double-decker bus). // 8
- Kosh (c) 2006