Alien Ant Farm
Always and Forever


3.3
great

Review

by Jom STAFF
February 20th, 2015 | 81 replies


Release Date: 02/24/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Even though I don't know you, I feel like I owe you.

Listening to Always and Forever is similar to seeing a peer at your 10-year high school reunion for the first time since you had class with him. You've been so busy this past decade that high school has justifiably faded from your mind, but upon seeing him at the reunion, your memory spontaneously recovers. You remember him being the prototypical 'nice guy': he seemed to be well-liked by students and staff (when you were studying Hamlet in English, you recall how he hilariously reenacted the swordfight with Laertes by 'wounding' your teacher with a car antenna, much to the delight of your applauding classmates), but as you play back these recollections, you realize that you don't remember much else about him other than that vivid image from English class. Despite the positive sentiments you feel in the moment upon seeing him for the first time in 10 years, you silently berate yourself for not remembering anything else about him.

Alien Ant Farm are very much akin to this former colleague: they have a great sense-of-humor and are abundantly talented. Despite having other singles that range from stellar ("Attitude") to solid ("Movies", "Glow"), the band are most closely tied to covering Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal" and are often derided for not being able to escape that specter's shadow (something that vocalist Dryden Mitchell fiercely rebukes in the acerbic "Let 'Em Know"). The Riverside, California-based quartet have also experienced a whirlwind of unfortunate drama; from a traumatic bus crash in Spain to issues with their former label (the band have since partnered with The End Records) to additional frightening health scares (guitarist Terry Corso underwent several emergency surgeries, including needing his colon and large intestine removed), Alien Ant Farm relied on crowdfunding and a blue-collar, boots-to-the-ground work ethic to get Always and Forever recorded and released. Although there were still some consequences - bassist Tye Zamora has since left the band again to be the bass tech for Godsmack and Limp Bizkit (which makes me wonder how frustrated he became to want to go on the road for those bands instead of playing with Alien Ant Farm, because his efforts throughout this album are phenomenal, as expected) and the band will be refunding all the pledge monies to those who donated - the band's resiliency in releasing new music is certainly a triumph.

The strength of Always and Forever is in its accessibility. For long-time listeners, there's a definite air of familiarity in each track, but this record can serve as an acceptable introduction to Alien Ant Farm. One prevailing notion across their discography is that each album sounds markedly unparalleled to the others, but each retains the signature Alien Ant Farm blueprint. For example, throughout their career, Alien Ant Farm have crafted some supremely catchy choruses, and this hallmark exists in spades on this record, too, with album opener "Yellow Pages", the groovy "Our Time" (featuring a guest appearance from Texas-based rapper Zeale), and the heavy-hitting trio of "Godlike", "Better Weather", and "Dirty Bomb" being obvious stand-outs (especially closer "Dirty Bomb", sporting an effective solo from Corso, although his best ones can be heard in "Burning" and "Godlike"). On the other hand, the band have never incorporated wobble bass electronic flourishes to the extent that they have in lead single "Let 'Em Know", nor have they infused guest appearances into their songs as they did with Zeale in "Our Time". While these sonic experiments succeed more than they falter, the wub-wub in "Let 'Em Know" seems to be haphazardly thrown in as a time capsule to mark what other genres were rising to prominence at the time of recording.

Meanwhile, Mitchell sounds seasoned, arguably (and understandably) worn, but his calling card has always been his lyrical creativity and inventiveness. Although he has some hiccups here-and-there throughout the record, Mitchell shines in album highlight "Homage", a who's-who of the band's musical influences delivered in a truly clever fashion ("Purple Rain falls on The Dark Side of the Moon"; "Phil Collins on the record player spinning 'round / It's 'In the Air Tonight', ['I Got You/]'I Feel Good' James Brown"; "KISS is here to party / Beasties "Fight for Your Right" / The Stones will keep us rolling / With The Eagles we can fly"). Instrumentally, "Homage"'s bright piano and stadium rock aura confidently propel the band to sounds that they've previously unexplored, and will undoubtedly be a live staple and fan-favorite. The same could be said of "Simpatico", which is driven by forever-steady drummer Mike Cosgrove, the quintessential model of consistency who's been criminally underrated as a percussionist.

Perhaps I'm overinflating my final score because I have such an affinity for ANThology and truANT (why not Always Ant Forever, eh"), and in hindsight, I know why 3rd Draft/Up in the Attic was such a misstep. In parallel, this album is indeed rife with a handful of clunkers: "Sidelines" is the indisputable throwaway song, regrettably starring a group vocal that's more obnoxious than it is fun (although I appreciate the intent behind it, as it was part of the crowdfunding campaign to those who donated enough money), "Little Things (Physical)" is similarly insipid, and the cloying "American Pie" is oversweet. Nonetheless, songs like "Homage", "Simpatico", and the album's final three cuts are songs I'll repeatedly revisit, and even though it's gutting that Zamora won't be playing with the band going forward, those songs will beautifully translate live.

Nearly ten years since their last album, it's nice to see - and hear from - an old friend again.

Jom recommends:

"Homage"
"Godlike"
"Burning"
"Our Time"




Recent reviews by this author
We Sell The Dead Heaven Doesn't Want You...Flogging Molly Life Is Good
Brian Fallon PainkillersGhost (SWE) Meliora
Strung Out Transmission.Alpha.DeltaButch Walker Afraid of Ghosts
user ratings (62)
Chart.
2.7
average


Comments:Add a Comment 
Jom
Staff Reviewer
February 20th 2015


3082 Comments


A bit of a mess with the crowdfunding thing, but it seems like it was something out of their control and the band's reportedly refunding all donors.

Stream here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ND3kBhyKNm4

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
February 20th 2015


14983 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i like the first 3 or 4 and the last 4 tha most

Tunaboy45
February 20th 2015


16125 Comments


Good review, forgot about this band

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
February 20th 2015


14983 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

o im not sure our tracklist is correct ? isnt godlike in the end run?

Jom
Staff Reviewer
February 20th 2015


3082 Comments


Yeah, I'm trying to fix it now but the site's acting a bit wonky. Whoever added the album posted the wrong order.

EDIT: all good. I think what was uploaded was the Amazon tracklist, which went through several iterations. I'm going by what I have on the back of the LP, which syncs up with what's in the stream from The End Records.

JohnFire
February 20th 2015


572 Comments


Two questions: Is this anywhere near as good as TRUant and could someone sum up for me what's he deal with the crowdfunding thing, what went wrong, why are people being paid back?!

Ponton
Emeritus
February 20th 2015


6291 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

love homage

Digging: Colour Haze - All

Jom
Staff Reviewer
February 20th 2015


3082 Comments


>> Two questions: Is this anywhere near as good as TRUant and could someone sum up for me what's he deal with the crowdfunding thing, what went wrong, why are people being paid back?!

1) Somewhat. ANThology's a 4+, truANT's a 4-, this is a 3+, and 3D/UITA is a 2+. "Simpatico" is kinda like "Tia Lupe", "Crazy Love" reminds me of their cover for "Friday, I'm in Love" from 50 First Dates, and the last three songs are like truANT's first three songs when it comes to 'crunch', but nothing as heavy as "S.S. Recognize".

2) Nothing went 'wrong', per se, but pledgers were supposed to receive a digital copy of the album in advance, and The End published the stream online. This upset some pledgers because they got mad that 'the world' got to hear the album without donating anything, so Dryden posted a video through pledgemusic/Facebook saying folks could e-mail him if they wanted to air their grievances, but you know how it is -- a couple bad apples spoil the bunch and most people have been cool about it. He said that they're trying to do their best ("You guys pledging is what's making the record happen. I think that it's a good thing that the album is streaming, and I hope you'd agree as well").

The refunds are allegedly happening, but it might have been just a kneejerk announcement.

IronGiant
February 20th 2015


1571 Comments


great review, but I still don't care for the band

NervousBreakdown
February 20th 2015


172 Comments


smooth criminal is one of the best cover songs ever

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
February 20th 2015


14983 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

sorry jom but up in the attic is way better than a 2+

Jom
Staff Reviewer
February 20th 2015


3082 Comments


3-?

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
February 20th 2015


14983 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

3+ - 4- imho

moshpotatoes
February 20th 2015


712 Comments


according to the amazing album art it'll easily be a 5

Ponton
Emeritus
February 20th 2015


6291 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The song before homage is fun



SowingSeason
Moderator
February 20th 2015


26666 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

OMG these guys were always one of my favorite bands growing up. So pumped to hear this.

Digging: Ben Howard - Noonday Dream

MattTD
February 20th 2015


678 Comments


I missed the main nu-metal hype (mostly because I was 4 years-old in 2001) but this seems interesting. I take they're better than most nu-metal bands from that era?

Good review, nicely written.

MattTD
February 20th 2015


678 Comments


I meant stuff like Limp Bizkit but whatever.

Korn and Life is Peachy are the only good Korn albums tbh, I'll give you SOAD and Deftones though

greg84
Emeritus
February 20th 2015


7597 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

They're still alive! I need to give it a go out of sheer curiosity.

Digging: YOB - Our Raw Heart

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 20th 2015


26666 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

truANT was the best album



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy