Judging by the name, Alien Syndrome 777, I expected it to be a musical equivalent to a campy sci-fi movie like ‘Killer Klowns from Outer Space’. But the band’s debut full length titled ‘Outer’, is a much more sinister affair that manages to invoke the strange atmosphere somewhat akin to the one experienced on starship Nostromo with a Xenomorph on the loose. Based out of Italy, France and Spain, Alien Syndrome 777 have a very weird take on black metal with a lot of avant-garde and industrial elements that make their album feel like an engaging experience in outer space.
The entire record has a strong, ominous atmosphere which the opening track, ‘An Unconscious Reflection’ does a brilliant job of setting up the theme. The dense atmosphere and the robotic spoken voice section leave no doubt that this record is going down the futuristic, alien – technology route thematically. When the actual music does start with ‘Symmetriads’, it does so on a chaotic and raw note. The industrial elements join in and the music settles into a comfortable, disco-ish pace. The dissonant arpeggios and weird chord progressions used by the band is not something that is heard a lot in regular black metal and the industrial sound effects aid the music tremendously, justifying the ‘avant-garde’ tag.
The way Alien Syndrome 777 mix black metal and industrial to create some dissonant melodies and very mechanical sounding tremolo runs is commendable. Clean vocals are also employed sparingly in ‘Bleeding Anthill of the Universe’ which has a very sullen and eerie tone to it. The band nails the balance between sheer abrasiveness and innovative riffage. Regardless of the various eccentricities, it still sounds and feels like a black metal record, which is a concept lost on many of the technical bands these days. As interesting as the songs themselves are, the band also infuses a lot of hooks into their music like the infectious groove and rhythm on ‘Unearthly Reveries Unveiled’.
The production work on this record does a wonderful job of representing all the layers in the music, in a clear way. Though the album has so many different layers working their magic at the same time, the mixing ensures that one is not compromised for the other. Even in the case of the ambient instrumentals, the mixing helps the tracks achieve their target of setting up the mood. Like the last few scenes of a movie that sets up the inevitable sequel, ‘Black Box’ finishes the record on an mysterious note, indicating that something is lurking below the waters of whatever alien planet the record is based on.
In a season where black metal releases are aplenty, ‘Outer’ comes as a curve ball from out of nowhere and it is a highly enjoyable record. Alien Syndrome 777 do a solid job of getting the listener interested in their unconventional ideas and it’ll be interesting to see what the band does next.