REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/19/2004
For every Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin, there have been countless numbers of bands that didn't make it for various reasons. There is an incredible amount of pressure on bands cutting their first albums to hit a home run. Most of the time, instead of a home run, a band strikes out. Fortunately, with their self-titled debut album, Alientar has hit a double.
I cannot peg Alientar into a specific genre, seeing as how there are so many represented on this album. There's a heavy dose of prog-rock, but one can find bits of metal, blues, arena rock and space rock scattered throughout Alientar. While that eclectic mix may suffice for now, future releases will hopefully be more focused. Pink Floyd and Yes were able to create extended songs that managed to hold the listeners attention. Alientar is not at that point yet, but they have the potential. However, one thing is certain, this band has chops.
Kudos to the rhythm section of Alientar. They are the glue that holds the album together. Forest Croe, lead guitarist, displays his versatility quite well. He can shift from an over-the-top Pink Floydian-solo to a catchy R&B riff or to a quiet acoustic solo. Joseph Lemmer has a good grasp of how keyboards should be used in rock. His work on "Good Luck" is particularly excellent.
So what about the songs themselves? As with most prog-rock albums, the songs serve as a vehicle for the band to display their talents. Each track contains various shifts in tempo and style, much like the work of Yes. In fact, Yes and Pink Floyd are the two bands I would compare Alientar to the most. There are some moments in which Alientar really captures some major elements of prog-rock. Take for example the opening of "Kraz-E NayBR," which reminded me a great deal of the screaming, distorted guitar sound of "In The Flesh" off The Wall. "Sonic Wave" features a keyboard solo that would make Rick Wakeman proud. The best track on Alientar, " Good Luck," is in the same mold as "Roundabout" off the Yes album Fragile. This is a further testament to the skills of the band members.
Vocally is where I find a minor fault with the album. This kind of music usually requires a different sort of voice. Roger Waters, Ian Anderson and Jon Anderson, among others, brought a little something extra to the table. They added another dimension to their songs. While the vocals on Alientar are suitable for straight-up rock, the direction the band seems to be taking calls for something a little different.
Alientar has produced a well-crafted album. The group can go in a lot of different directions at this point, and it will be interesting to see where they do end up. They have the talent and the ability -- now it's up to Fate.