If you weren’t attending shows or reading Decibel back in the early 00s, then please take this opportunity to relive those glory days with Thunder Bay’s Alienator, a trio of like-minded guys who make noisy, post-hardcore sludge full of energy and rage.
Their debut album Pariahs packs in thirteen bangers with not a second of filler. Even the synth track rules, proving that, above all, Alienatör are willing to take risks, to present their listeners with something unexpected, something challenging. But let’s be honest, for all its neck-wrecking riffs, pissed-off lyrics and explosive songwriting, Pariahs isn’t much of a challenge. In fact, it’s an incredibly rewarding listen, even if you don’t remember those good ol’ turn-of-the-century days.
“I started this band when I moved back to my hometown of Thunder Bay in Vancouver,” says Alienatör guitarist/vocalist, Brad King. “I had no idea what to expect from the local scene. I’m lucky to have fallen in with some talented folks and made some good friends.”
So Pariahs, which sounds at once fresh and familiar, came about as a result of King moving back to the town where they grew up. Seems fitting for an album with a sound like this. That it would begin with going back to where you started, and findingthat place changed and changing still. A song like “Renovicted (Ode to Vancouver)” illustrates this point well. The music sounds like Acid Bath mixed with some Unsane, while the lyrics are an all-too relevant criticism of the gentrifying developers and a city that can’t get enough of them.
For his part, King says: “Style-wise I just try to make a record I’d enjoy listening to and write riffs and tunes that are fun to play. I love fuzz, grime, noise and aggressive music the most. Add some cathartic lyrics and away we go.”
King, who says he’s “on a big Neurosis kick right now,” goes on to describe what bands have helped to shape his approach to aggressive extreme music: “I love bands that are creative and non-commercial, who take chances. The Melvins, Converge and Today is the Day are all big for me. I also love punk and hardcore; classic bnds like NoMeansNo or more contemporary like Cursed. Also noise rock like Unsane. I like a ton of different styles of music, from jazz to afro beat to Italian horror soundtracks but I doubt you’ll hear any of that in our music. The socket wrench we use as percussion on ‘False Hope,” is an idea I borrowed from Frank Zappa . . .”
Alienatör were a two-piece when they began recording Pariahs at Exit Music Studios with Sean Skillen. King describes Exit Music as “a home studio with a relaxed vibe,” which was conducive, he says, to his own work ethic. “Sean likes to take his time and get everything sounding exactly right and that’s how I wanted to approach this album. Over the course of recording, Sean agreed to add bass and then joined on as a full-fledged member. It added a little extra time for him to learn and record bass parts but not much. All total it took about a year to record and mix the record. In the past, I’ve been rushed in the studio and not liked the final product but this time, we had the luxury of going a bit slower and creating something we were totally happy with.”
The provocative and unique cover art comes courtesy of Peter David Wragg, a local Vancouver photographer and a friend of the band’s. “[Wragg’s] stuff is amazing,” King exclaims. “I saw that picture and knew right away that it was perfect [for the album cover]. There’s a sad beauty to it. I also liked that it didn’t look like a typical metal album cover and didn’t immediately identify us with a particular style.”
Pariahs is available on CD from the band. Support some true underground music with meaning and pick up a copy with the utmost haste. Meanwhile, King and Skillen are working with a new drummer, and, according to King, Alienatör are “looking at some Eastern Canada (Ontario and Quebec) dates in the spring and summer of 2020. Hopefully some festivals as well.”
Don’t sleep on Pariahs. This is true underground metal that rages in the face of trends. Aa genuine asskicker of a record that gives us what we all need once in awhile, a genuine asskicking.