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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite simply, a delight!, 20 July 2003
By 
Jonathan "deadmarlowe" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Aliens (Audio CD)
Look, this is excellent, OK? So buy it.

Alright then, I'll expand on that a bit.

70s folk-prog-rockers Horslips had reached a career high with their previous album, The Book of Invasions: a Celtic Symphony, which took as its themes the myths and legends of the first Celtic peoples' supplanting the faerie rulers of Ireland. Emboldened by the success of this, Horslips created a sequel, of sorts. "Aliens" is another concept album, this time following the fortunes of the "Irish Diaspora" in the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly the emigrants' journey to America.

The album doesn't have the narrative unity of "Invasions" - there's no single story here, only a sort of montage of images, scenarios and nostalgia. The sonorous horns of "Before the Storm" lurch into the whirling rockers "Wrath of the Rain", "Speed the Plough" and "Sure the Boy was Green" - a triptych of folk rock gems very much in the spirit of Jethro Tull (which means, about as good as it's possible for this sort of stuff to be!). This sequence captures the bitterness of the famine years, the frustration of a farmboy driven by greater aspiration and a sardonic view of the naievety (and beauty) of youth full of hopes for the future but not yet experienced enough to regret the past. Excellent!

Shifting gear, "Come Summer" and "Stowaway" have a gentler, acoustic quality. Both are haunting, lyrical evocations of the rootlessness and idealism of emigrants bound for the New World.

"New York Wakes" revisits the horn-motif from the beginning, and suddenly we're in the jostling, energetic world of the American Irish imigrants, holding onto the tunes and language of their homeland through the time honoured funeral "wakes" they preserve in their new country. "Exiles" is a charming instrumental and "Second Avenue" shamelessly steals a Jethro Tull riff (from Teacher - but since it's the best riff Tull ever played, I'm prepared to let it go). "Ghosts", though, is the real climax to the album: an elegaic picture-in-images of the life of poverty, regret and fierce hope for a generation cut off from the land, lost in the urban sprawl. Lovely. The actual climax "Lifetime to Pay" seems rather crass by comparison, though it's as good a folk-rock thumper as Horslips ever wrote - but really, the album should end with "Ghosts".

You'll have gathered I really like this album. Horslips have a rather special sound - more "rock" than the types of bands normally labelled "folk rock" (Steeleye, Fairport, etc) but imbued with an authentic feel for traditional instrumentalisation, themes and sensibilities (unlike Jethro Tull, who are just pretending to be folkies).

"Aliens", though it rocks pretty hard in places, has a colder, more melancholic feel than anything else Horslips have done, which is what makes this album so special. In fact, Horslips turned the whole sequence into a trilogy, with follow-up The Man Who Built America looking at the prosperity of the Irish settlers - but by this point a rather bland AOR sound was starting to dominate and the thematic vision had become incoherent and cliched. It's a fine album, though - just not a patch on "Aliens".
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well constructed concept album, 25 Feb. 2007
This review is from: Aliens (Audio CD)
This is their second best album, after Book Of Invasions. A good selection of songs with well thought out lyrics, and the whole thing hangs together quite well, for the most part, apart from the last track, the raucous A Lifetime To Pay, which doesn`t really go with the overall feel of the rest of the album.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 25 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Aliens (Audio CD)
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Aliens
Aliens by Horslips (Audio CD - 2000)
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