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Hawkwind: Alien 4 (remastered)

In 1995 space rock pioneers Hawkwind released their 20th studio album, titled Alien 4, and this was the first release with new frontman Ron Tree, who joined mainstays Dave Brock (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Alan Davey (bass, vocals), and Richard Chadwick (drums), with Jerry Richards helping out with some guitar on a few tracks. As you can imagine by the title, Alien 4 is all about, well, aliens and mainly alien abduction. It's surprising that Hawkwind never really jumped head-on into this concept previously, but it works here both musically & lyrically.

Casual space rock listeners can probably envision that any album released with that tag should sound like this one. I mean, the band did a magnificent job creating ominous, futuristic, and quite horrific sounds and moods throughout this album. If you close your eyes and listen to all the eerie synth washes, blips, and beeps, not to mention Tree's at times bizarre vocalizations, you really can imagine being taken prisoner on some strange alien spaceship and being run through all sorts of terrifying tests. "Alien (1 AM)", "Blue Skin", "Beam Me Up", and "Xenomorph" are just a few of the many unsettling tracks here, but I say that in a good way. This is space rock as it should be, and the perfect soundtrack to to your worst alien abduction nightmare. Brock's guitar riffs mesh perfectly with the repetitive, undulating, and sometimes zig-zagging synth lines, while the rhythms keep you antsy and on the edge of a panic attack. Less of the 'space metal' style that the band had been cranking out a bit over the previous decade, much of Alien 4 is dark, ominous, and futuristic, as if Pink Floyd on acid got all sorts of obsessed with alien themes and storytelling and out popped this little gem. Well, that's not quite fair, as I don't think the Floyd ever had it in them to unleash something this 'out there' and frightening.

For some, Alien 4 might not be an easy listen, and it certainly doesn't have that instantly memorable appeal that many of their more popular records have, but as far as setting up some pretty chilling moods and recreating musically what the concept behind the lyrics are, it succeeds on many levels. Atomhenge's remaster treatment is quite good, and there's a cool booklet filled with artwork, photos, and info to dive into while the ominous soundtrack is playing. A underrated & overlooked Hawkwind gem from the '90s for sure.

Track Listing
1) Abducted
2) Alien (1 AM)
3) Reject Your Human Touch
4) Blue Skin
5) Beam Me Up
6) Vega
7) Xenomorph
8) Journey
9) Sputnik Stan
10) Kapal
11) Festivals
12) Death Trap
13) Wastelands
14) Are You Losing Your Mind?
15) Space Sex

Added: November 6th 2013
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2225
Language: english

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