The Alarm

Under Attack

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When Under Attack appeared in 2006, it marked the Alarm's first new U.S. release in 15 years. Much had changed in the personal life of leader Mike Peters shortly before it became available, as he had recently discovered he'd contracted leukemia, almost ten years after he'd contracted lymphoma. But Under Attack sounds like what you'd expect almost any given Alarm record to sound like -- hard-hitting, anthemic songs and arrangements with thickly chorded guitars owing debts to both hard rock and punk. Songs like "Without a Fight" and "Zero" set the dominant tone, earnestly urging courage and dignity. The flaws that have kept the Alarm from being a major critical favorite are still present, and whether or not you think of their unrelentingly anthemic approach as a strength or weakness, the songs themselves aren't all that varied. There's a bit of a folksy country feel to "This Is the Way We Are" in the acoustic interludes and harmonica, but it's just some frosting around a core of the usual uplifting guitar rock, complete with exhortatory background harmonies. "Cease and Desist" almost seems like a tribute, intentional or otherwise, to early British punk in its faster tempos, insistent speedy lyrics, and semi-chanting backup vocals. But it's not typical of a record that's typical Alarm.

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