I quite like Alien Ant Farm. Especially their first album, 'ANThology'. (Go fuck yourselves 'Greatest Hits' fans, it's a fucking demo or EP at best.) Thirteen awesome tracks that feature a unique blend of rock and nu-metal, with a terrific cover of Michael Jackson's 'Smooth Criminal' to put the cherry on the cake. All in all 'ANThology' was a nice debut cake, one even Mary Berry would be proud of. However, their 2nd and 3rd attempts at an album were kinda… meh out of ten. Both 'TruANT' and 'Up In The Attic' featured some solid tracks such as 'Drifting Apart' and 'Bad Morning' but failed to reach the brilliance heard on 'ANThology.'
It turns out during and after the creation of their 'Up In The Attic' album, Alien Ant Farm went through some rather major disputes with their record company, Geffen. Geffen appeared to be under the impression that promoting Alien Ant Farm was a bad move and the releasing of their third album took pretty much a whole year from creation to be released, the band handing out bootleg copies of their work to fans in the meantime. They split in 2007 after 'Up In The Attic' sold poorly, most likely due to Geffen's OCD to ensure AAF remained a secret.
Anyway, it's 2015 now and the band have finally got their arses into gear for a 4th album. Nearly the original line-up too, only the bassist deciding that he'd rather help Limp Bizkit's bassist on tour instead.
'Always and Forever' starts off well. From the start, it is unmistakingly AAF. Dryden Mitchell's high pitched vocals pierce over the music from what sounds like is going to be a slightly heavier album than usual. 'Simpatico', the second track re-enforces the vision of a heavier album with a heavy and complex riff, albeit, repetitive lyrics. From there however, things change.
The introduction of synths and drum loops is a curve-ball. But a welcome one. From the dawn of time, even with 'ANThology,' AAF albums start off strong and slowly lose momentum as they go. This attempt to keep tracks sounding fresh plays out well, however it doesn't really stop the slow losing of momentum throughout. It keeps it going longer than both 'TruANT' and 'Up In The Attic' but eventually by the time we get to 'Homage', my ears are losing interest and the songs begin to bleed into one another.
And this is one of the things I'll never forgive AAF for. They can come up with some brilliant tracks, but no matter how much they try, their albums always seem to devolve into boringness. To give them their credit, they do try in 'Always And Forever,' but it isn't quite enough. Too many songs towards the end of the album sound similar or, like 'American Pie' are just plain fucking boring. It's as though they become disinterested with their own work as thy go along, not that I'm suggesting they make their tracks in order, but if they did, it'd make a lot of sense.
One good thing. Well two actually. The last two tracks 'Better Weather' and 'Dirty Bomb' do pick it up… a bit, for a nice satisfying ending. Maybe I'm expecting too much or being a bit harsh, but I don't like it when artists don't evolve. Bands like Iron Maiden and AC/DC that literally make the same album over and over again. It feels like AAF are encroaching on this territory, even though I know full well that they have touched a wide rage of genre's in their time. But it feels like AAF don't have a comfortable home except the few true nu-metal-ish tracks at the start of their albums and the tepid shit they provide after that. Their genre-dipping remains mostly ignored, at least in my ears.
But I digress. Is 'Always And Forever' a good album? It is. Almost on the lines of very good like 'ANThology'. But not quite. Don't get me wrong, it's much better than both 'TruANT' and 'Up In The Attic', but it doesn't quite beat their first afford. Still, a new AAF album after all this time is very welcome, and AAF fans will most likely rate this album. For everyone else, get yourself a copy of 'ANThology.' You won't regret it.