Anthology is the debut record from southern California”s latest metal band. But before you get too excited, I must warn you that it does not follow in the formula of the fresh wave of So-Cal rap/metal bands. That doesn”t necessarily mean that Alien Ant Farm is good. It does, however, mean that the band is not just riding the current trends.

Paul Wong
The Three Cousins (Megan Besley, Alissa Mercurio and Kimberley Dolanski) get pornographic in “La Perichole.”<br><br>Courtesy of University Productions

In fact, Anthology is more a kickback to the popular mid-“90s metal which, means that it is not really metal at all. Alien Ant Farm straddle a thin line between metal, skate punk, and pop. Again, diversity is not necessarily a good thing. The band easily could have pushed all the way in either direction and come out equally successful. Instead, though, what will happen with the album is that it will be too soft and poppy for metalheads, too slow for skate punks, and too heavy for pop audiences.

Alien Ant Farm consists of dark and steady, predominantly rhythm, guitars reminiscent of Helmet, skilled but typical drumming, and Dryden Mitchell”s vocals that sound at times like James Maynard Keenan, Jerry Cantrell and David Pirner.

Despite all the artistic discrepancies, the songs end upsounding quite powerful. “Attitude,” with a Latin feeling, discusses the acceptability of an ex-girlfriend”s rage at the singer”s past-actions as he sings, “This attitude is welcome.” Quite a change from the testosterone-filled, nookie-hunting, rap/metal bands.

“Movies,” the band”s first single, contains insightful lines such as, “At slow speed we all seem focused.” The song has a happy feel with a slow bridge that builds up into the chorus. It seems tailor made for the radio but lacks a hook.

The only times on the album where the band actually sounds like a true metal band is in “Calico” and “Smooth Criminal” which have extra crunchy guitars, fast drums and cryptic lyrics. The only thing that lacks is that you can actually understand the lyrics. The tightness of these songs highlights the band”s musical prowess.

“Universe” closes the album with a string section and perhaps the album”s most anthemic track. Coming at the end, the song”s numerous parts reveal the band”s move toward greater compositional complexity. This additionally evidenced on the hidden track which is rooted in Mexican nylon-guitar with an angry voice coming over it which is the type of innovation that should be noted.

Alien Ant Farm is another band from Southern California. They are above par at what they do but in all likelihood, came around at the wrong time and unless their hidden track is any indication, will end up being just another band from Southern California.

Grade: C

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