Alien Sex Fiend

It (The CD)

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You could call Alien Sex Fiend prescient in ways for naming the storming, massive leadoff track "Smells Like...," but there's no proto-grunge here, just a three-person lineup ripping through another bunch of quirky rockers that all sound like they could soundtrack a combination of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Disney's Haunted House. Youth once again is behind the producer's board and does a fine job as always, bringing the Fiend's unique blend to full life. "Smells Like..." (as in " sh*t") is such a powerful start, with Yaxi's guitar roaring through another prime '50s-into-glam riff as Mr. and Mrs. Fiend crank everything up to 11, that expecting the remainder of the album to be a comedown in comparison wouldn't be surprising. Instead, the re-energized trio is just getting started, as the very next number shows. The over-ten-minute "Manic Depression" isn't a Hendrix cover, but it is mighty fine, and signals the album as being at once very much the Fiend as always (distortion and echo, synth and guitar mayhem, and Nik Fiend's spindly, half-goofy/half-harrowing vocals) and just that little bit more forceful than before, turning into a heavy groove monster that just won't let up throughout its length. The rest of the album explores a variety of ground within the realms of '80s Fiend-dom, with more than a couple of charging instrumentals ("Believe It or Not," "Lesson One") to its credit. "April Showers" is a near-instrumental and another Fiend highlight, taking a much slower, at times unstructured approach (drums start, then stop in different patterns throughout) to mix with its evil drones before shading into the more typical "Wop-Bop." The CD version adds some solid singles cuts, including a good take on the Red Krayola's "Hurricane Fighter Plane," to make It an overall Fiend high point.

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