February 25, 2015 Alien Ant Farm – Always and Forever (Album Review)
It is amazing to realize how much time has passed since Alien Ant Farm debuted their cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” as part of their second album released in 2001 entitled ANTology. Almost exactly fourteen years later, the band is set to release its long-awaited fifth studio album, Always and Forever, the band’s first full-length album in nine years. Lead by the unique voice of frontman Dryden Mitchell, alongside mainstays Terry Corso (Lead Guitar), Mike Cosgrove (Drums), and newcomer bassist Tim Peugh (of Valora and Mystery Schools fame), Alien Ant Farm’s Always and Forever comes across as a fun return to the sound that caught fans’ attentions, while at the same time acts as a great evolution of the band’s brand of music. The album art for the album features an updated version on the ant head logo that has followed the band since ANThology, this time with the face stitched up the middle.
Mitchell has been quoted by Billboard saying that, “A ton of love was put into this record,” and that becomes immediately clear right from the first track, titled “Yellow Pages”. The track has a quick guitar hook and goes on to become a catchy song. The song deserves its opening spot as it will quickly draw returning fans and newcomers alike to Alien Ant Farm’s talents. As the song ends, “Simpatico,” takes over. The second track slows things down a little, and adds another layer to the album. “Burning,” the third track is a very quirky Pop Rock song that is accompanied by a fun guitar solo. Following “Burning,” a track titled “Let Em Know” brings with it a touch of Electronica, showing again the different directions that Alien Ant Farm is able to venture. ‘”Our Time” follows with a chorus so catchy the listener will find themselves singing along after the first play through. The track also features Austin-based rapper Zeale adding a different flavor to the track. The sixth track, “Homage,” was originally released in September of last year as a single. Aptly named, it is a homage to various musicians that have influenced the band and acts as a fun trip down a musical memory lane. “Homage” contains lines that allude to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Phil Collins, and Stevie Wonder just to name a few; this song is filled with references both tongue in cheek and heart-felt. Its chorus particularly, could sum up what many fans have felt about music in general.
“Sidelines” acts as the album’s half way point. The backing vocals sound as if there is a live crowd singing along. This track reminds fans that “nobody scores from the sidelines.” “Little Things (Physical)” and “Crazy Love” come in as the next two tracks and each show signs of the band’s earlier work. The album next segues into “American Pie,” which is not a cover of the classic Don McLean song. Instead, it is an original ballad serenading a “red haired, white skinned, blue eyed girl.” While the album is new, two of the three remaining tracks are anything but new to Alien Ant Farm. Stuck in limbo for nearly six years, “Godlike” and “Dirty Bomb” find their way onto the album. Both tracks provide some of the hardest punches of the album and will surely delight fans. Slotted between “Dirty Bomb” and “Godlike” is “Better Weather,”a track that remains true to Alien Ant Farm’s strengths while showcasing Mitchell’s voice.
In addition to traditional purchases, Always and Forever was available for a special pre-order physical bundle that includes the album alongside a mug, t-shirt, and coaster all featuring the bands logo via The End Records. While that offer has come and gone, The album itself makes the wait worth it for fans that have been anxious to hear something new from Alien Ant Farm. Each track brings with it its own personality. It could easily be argued that Always and Forever is the band’s most adventurous and solid album to date. CrypticRock gives Alien Ant Farm’s Always and Forever 4 out of 5 stars.