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Alarm | Guerilla Tactics (The Twenty First Century Recording Company)
Written by Laura Hamlett
Thursday, 10 July 2008
Throughout the disc's 15 tracks, there is no letting up, no turning back.
Indeed, this is that Alarm from the '80s and early '90s "The Opening" feeds into "Three Sevens Clash," hard hitting and instantly recognizable as Mike Peters and Co. For v.2 of the band, Peters has recruited a veritable who's who of the punk/wave scene from two decades ago: James Stevenson (Generation X) on guitar, Craig Adams (Sisters of Mercy) on bass and Steve Grantley (Stiff Little Fingers) on drums. Yes, boys and girls, this is your father's Alarm...and now yours, as well.
Throughout the disc's 15 tracks, there is no letting up, no turning back. Frontman/founder Peters, fresh off his second recovery from cancer (12 years ago lymphoma, two years ago leukemia; how unlucky can one man be?), sounds stronger than ever, fully confident (and why wouldn't he be? He's kicked cancer's ass twice) and in command of his band. The songs are intensely personal, written during his battle with the beast: "I'm going through hell and I can't speak/ I'm going through hell and I can't breathe" ("Situation Under Control"); "I survived the '90s" ("Kill to Get What You Want (Die for What You Believe In"); "Past deserted dreams to the end of night/ Past the click click click click click of the killing machines" ("Love Hope and Strength").
He's even gone on to form a foundation (Love Hope Strength) to both acknowledge the center which treated him and provide necessary diagnosis and recovery equipment to poorer nations where there is none. Hell, he organized the highest concert ever on Mt. Everest, a benefit that garnered crucial machinery for the non-westernized nation of Nepal.
"Rat Trap" seems poised to become a classic Alarm song alongside such gems as "Strength" and "The Stand." From its early notes, "Fightback" could stand alongside early Mötley Crüe. Still these aren't your typical edgy rock songs; they're anthems, really, odes to recovery and being alive. But don't worry, kids; they're not at all preachy, and they still rock.
"War Cry" features Peters' signature harmonica and anguished yowl; both are also featured on "Love Hope and Strength." The solid "State of Emergency," has an infectious, cautious to all-out drumbeat and guitar line that will insinuate itself into your subconscious; another classic track, perhaps? Another powerful track, "Right Now," could be an alt-rock single with its straight-ahead guitar work and Peters' soaring vocals.
In fact, the disc is full of classic riffs and grooves, solid from first to last. Guerilla Tactics is the sound of a band in full control of its faculties, playing off their strong pasts to create a satisfyingly contemporary offering to the gods of rock. Kudos to Mike Peters and Co. for neither reinventing themselves nor resting on their laurels, but rather giving listeners of all ages something to hold on to. Let's hope for more instant classics from the Alarm in years to come. A | Laura Hamlett