Alien Force – We Meet Again Review

Take a moment, if you will, and try to recall what you were doing thirty-five years ago. I can’t do that myself, because I’m Twelve, but you should try anyway, if only to appreciate the fact that Alien Force last released a full-length album about that long ago. There have been a few reasons for this, but I bring it up mainly to share my respect for the determination and longevity of these four musicians. The Danes of Alien Force play traditional heavy metal, and their third full-length release, We Meet Again, carries within it many of the same inspirations that can be heard on their debut and sophomore records from the 1980s. I appreciate their dedication to the sound—but how well does it hold up in 2021?

For the most part, that sound holds up well, not least because Alien Force opt for an entirely modern production for We Meet Again. Influence from Iron Maiden and similar classic heavy metal acts remains, but without any overt attempt to “revive” those sounds. “Rebellions” is a good example, a lively, traditional metal tune that shows off the band’s core strengths: a penchant for simple-yet-catchy riffs with just enough melody to give each song its own identity. Simplicity is the name of the game here, especially with tracks like “I Decide For You,” which has a super retro feel to it, and “Sceptical Feeling,” which is a lot catchier than I initially gave it credit for. Alien Force are content to sit with their decades-old sound, with the album as a whole bearing striking resemblance to their debut—but sounding a whole lot better. There’s a well-balanced mix, minimal fuzz, and a good bit of polish that allows it to sound as fresh as it arguably should.

“Earnest” is a great word to use to describe the album in general, because while there are aspects of it that don’t fully work, it’s hard to fault the band for so obviously enjoying what they’re doing. As an example, closer “Song for You” is a textbook power ballad, with little else going for it; largely acoustic, it pulls on the heartstrings a little, allows vocalist Peter Anderson to offer a rare heartfelt delivery, and then ends. But it’s really hard to not smile when you listen to the opening verse: “This is a love song / I’m about to do / Hope that you like it / Wrote it just for you,” which has to be the most straightforward lyric I’ve heard in some time. It’s sweet. A little hokey. And it works. On a similar note, I don’t know why the title track takes a moment to have a computerized voice read out an encyclopedic definition of heavy metal, including a nod to Judas Priest, but the rest of the song feels like a heartfelt thank-you to their longtime fans and a love letter to their chosen style of music…again, it’s nice and it works.

Despite that sense of appreciation, however, We Meet Again still feels uneven. My primary issue with the album actually stems from one of my praises earlier—that this is a fairly simple and straightforward album. By the time “Temptations” rolls around, it feels like Alien Force have exhausted their formula of upbeat styles that lean strongly on singular riffs. The fun doesn’t really stop, but the nuances do, making ten songs and forty-five minutes feel longer than it should. In opener “Set Me Free,” the chorus uses the titular phrase, but in order to match preceding lines, repeats the word “set” four times, making it feel, right off the bat, like Alien Force is running out of steam. On the other hand, “Rebellions,” the next song up, uses the same formula and improves it in almost every possible way. At no point is We Meet Again ever bad, but it isn’t consistent either.

As a straightforward rocker, We Meet Again is a fun way to spend the better part of an hour, with just the right amount of nostalgia and a good bit of bite to boot. Whether or not it succeeds as a comeback album isn’t really up to me to say, but I will say that I’m glad that Alien Force opted to record once more. If the album’s ideas don’t always resonate with me, its earnest approach often does, taking an uneven, and perhaps predictable, listen and making it a fun experience nevertheless.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: From the Vaults
Releases Worldwide: November 26th, 2021

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