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THE ALARM

A new lease on life
The Alarm - Guerilla Tactics
(The Twenty First Century Recording Company)
4 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: July 7, 2008

Review by Andy Argyrakis

When The Alarm debuted in 1981, it was often tagged somewhere between Bob Dylan, The Clash and a hearty helping of U2, a comparison chart that continues through today thanks to front man Mike Peters' socially conscious lyrics and his backers' punk-infused new wave attitude. Though the band is best known for its string of singles throughout that decade (including "Rain In the Summertime," "Blaze of Glory" and "Spirit Of '76"), its made headlines once again, not only for reentering the charts with 2006's top 30 hit "Superchannel," but also because of the singer's brave battle with Leukemia (CLL).

Even amidst several rounds of chemotherapy, the fearless leader forged on with all his Alarm duties, including every scheduled tour date and the recording of the brand new Guerilla Tactics with guitarist James Stevenson (Generation X), bassist Craig Adams (Sisters of Mercy/The Mission) and drummer Steve Grantley (Stiff Little Fingers). The results find the group taking a new lease on life, sounding less like the poor man's Bono and company or a retro band redone, but rather an entirely revived alternative rock entity. "Three Sevens Clash" comes out of the gate with some of the band's most electrifying guitars and monstrous melodies to date, followed by the brash pub rocker "Alarm Calling" (think Elvis Costello at his ultimate boiling point).

"Fightback" is a modern punk anthem that serves as Peters' positive battle cry and should also serve as an inspiration for anyone seeking survival of any association, while growling "Situation Under Control" confirms all is well with his health and personal affairs. Other aggressive crests include the in your face appeal of "Kill To Get What You Want (Die For What You Believe In") and "Watching Me Watching You Watching Them Watching Us," two of the longest titles and timeframes on the album (clocking in somewhere between three and four minutes). The rest is an ultra lean offering spilling over with insistency and justified angst that not only symbolizes the singer's rebirth, but The Alarm's latest artistic strides.