Reviewed by Tony Cummings
For my money, The Alarm are one of the greatest purveyors of stadium rock. From the moment in 1985 when they delivered the now classic postpunk anthem "Absolute Reality" to when they disbanded in 1991, I, like their legion of fans, were thrilled by Mike Peters' gritty, powerhouse vocals over surging guitars and thunderous drumming. So it was wonderful when in 2004, despite his courageous battles with cancer, Peters reactivated The Alarm. Now with a new line-up, they are delivering excellent albums. With 'Sigma', they've brought back the band's original guitarist Dave Sharp, and with the Cult's Billy Duffy the band have returned to the rawer powerhouse sounds which made those early albums so exciting. There are plenty of standouts here. The pumping opener "Blood Red Viral Black" exudes raw energy while the tracks chosen for the Cross Rhythms playlist - "Can You Feel Me", "Love And Understanding" and "Psalm" - show that, despite his health battles, Peters remains one of the best, and most effecting, rock singers in Christendom. The Independent described the acoustic "Psalm" as being "imbued with imagery of faith, building guitars and gospel vocals to life-affirming effect." Almost as good is "Armageddon This Morning", a harmonica and synth blues rock opus which is seven and a half minutes long and never palls. An outstanding album from the rock music survivors.
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