Darwin would have been proud of Alien Sex Fiend, a highly successful musical organism that has resisted 25 years' worth of attempts at pigeonholing and issued 13 barrier-breaking studio albums in the process. Continually cited for this brazen shedding of norms, the beautifully bizarre duo of Nik Fiend and Mrs. Fiend - aided by an ever-shifting squad of henchmen - have yet to stand still in any zone of space and time.
What is new in Fiendland? Something has been brewing in the fiendish caustic cauldron, and new compilation sampler CD "Para-Abnormal" is IT. Forging forward from where Anagram Records' retrospective "The Best Of Alien Sex Fiend" collection concludes, the 2006 release of "Para-Abnormal" celebrates the terrorific ten year anniversary of the band's own 13th Moon Records label. It is ripe with the unavailable, the unreleased, and most importantly, the unexpected! Offering 10 tormented tracks spanning all singles and albums issued since the label's fiendish foundation in 1996, ASF - true to their ever-unconventional form - substitute a number of cuts with formerly unreleased treasures from their vault. For instance "Baby" from the "Information Overload" album is represented by the original bare bones demo and the previously unheard "Hellfire Dub Mix" of "On A Mission" replaces the "Nocturnal Emissions" version. Thus "Para-Abnormal" presents an alternative overview of the band's more recent output and serves as a tempting taster of what Alien Sex Fiend have achieved over this past decade.
Like H.R. Giger's facehugger-to-adult Alien metamorphosis in that fabled film, Alien Sex Fiend '06 aren't a different band than say, the '97 incarnation, or the Fiends of '94 or '84. They are simply a more advanced form of the very same, very special beastie, genetically modified for the times.
For those in need of further mental refreshment, let us backtrack to the genesis of ASF in the deep, dank mists of 1982. Paranormal pulsations began to emanate from the environs of North London - a strange and unholy grafting together of percolating synth rhythms and a ghoulish, theatric aesthetic. Primed by Nik Fiend's phantasmagoric vocals, Mrs Fiend's highly original use of trippy drum machines and inscrutable electronic gear became a trademark - often imitated, never duplicated.
Alien Sex Fiend brought attention to the notorious Batcave club in London and its subsequent scene, though the band soon progressed beyond the genre's boundaries. This formative period was later documented on "The Legendary Batcave Tapes" album. Their classic 1983 debut single, the Youth (Killing Joke)-produced "Ignore The Machine" and its accompanying album, "Who's Been Sleeping In My Brain?", captured the Fiends initial burst of psychotic energy. Riveting lysergic follow up "Acid Bath" moved further into strange and spine tingling song structures, and led into the bleaker, more brooding interludes of 1985's "Maximum Security." With 1986 experimental monsterpiece "It -The Album," Alien Sex Fiend scaled unearthly peaks of creativity and/or insanity, followed by a pair of 1987 gems - "The Impossible Mission Mini LP" and the hallucinogenic "Here Cum Germs" album - and era-defining singles compilation "All Our Yesterdays". In an atomic renaissance of Fiendish style, 1988's "Another Planet" charted a new course of luscious lunacy, merrily continued on 1990's chaotic "Curse" and 1992's mysterioso menagerie "Open Head Surgery."
Throughout this eerie ouvre, Alien Sex Fiend built a fanatical following for their enthrallingly garish gigs, enticing the likes of Iggy Pop and David Bowie into fervent Fiend fandom, and opening for Alice Cooper on his Nightmare Returns jaunt. Live, the ASF experience is a creature-feature cabaret with Munsterian magician Nik as ringleader, armed with his array of lethal props, and surrounded by utterly gonzo self-designed stage sets. Their tyrannical tours have been documented on four merciless live albums to date: "Liquid Head In Tokyo" (1985), epic double set "Too Much Acid?" (1989), "The Altered States Of America" (1993), and the latest, wildest "Flashbacks! (Live 1995-98)" (2001).
Not limited to aural adventures, Alien Sex Fiend have left no form of media untouched. Nik Fiend has shown his sardonic Dali-esque paintings and artwork - featured on each and every ASF album - to great acclaim at art exhibitions around the globe (see Gallery). Videowise, Alien Sex Fiend were championed by MTV's callow creeps Beavis and Butthead, who regularly assaulted viewers with "Now I'm Feeling Zombiefied", while the Hellraiser special effects crew provided the visceral FX for "Magic". A steady stream of video (and now DVD) collections ("A Purple Glistener", "Edit", "Overdose", "Re-Animated", "Making Of Inferno") have been released. Finally, Nik and Mrs Fiend found the time to produce their own magazine, the ultra-wacky, ultra-witty Fiendzine aka "Alien World News" which have become highly prized collectors' items. In more recent years, with the advent of the internet, those particular energies have been re-directed into the band's own ever-developing website, with the additional benefits of colour graphics and increased fan interaction.
1994 found Alien Sex Fiend venturing where no group had gone before when they became the first band in the history of our solar system to compose and record an entire CD-ROM computer game soundtrack for the hot sci-fi game "Inferno - The Odyssey Continues". Although it served a functional gaming purpose, the "Inferno" score also stood on its own as an album - an irresistible mix of man and machine, fiend and fun. Anagram Records compilation "The Singles 1983-1995" neatly encapsulated the band's first dozen years' worth of musical mayhem by including every sordidly superb single to date.
The birth of Alien Sex Fiend's own 13th Moon Records in 1996 and the subsequent release of the "Evolution" singles marked the dawning of their next insane reign. Unshackled from any and all artificial boundaries, 13th Moon enabled the gruesome twosome to more efficiently pursue their surreal and humorously deviant vision with total and complete independence.
Surprise remained an ASF hallmark, and 1997 studio album "Nocturnal Emissions" (the re-issue "Nocturnal Emissions (Special Edition)" followed in 2000), was no exception. Their most futuristic effort, yet quintessentially Fiendish, it flowed and feinted with a seamless sense of cool. From the introductory groundbreaking single "Evolution" and beyond it was obvious that the Fiends space race was far from over, a point hammered home by the ensuing "On A Mission" and "Tarot Mixes" (1998) 12" singles, and an audacious DJing stint as "Fiend At The Controls". This led ASF to extensively re-examine some of the cobwebbed ghosts lurking within their archives, resulting in the 1999 2-CD monsterwork "Fiend At The Controls Volume 1 & 2" for Anagram Records.
2004's "Information Overload" reflected the new millennium's Age of Chaos, it was an angrier, more fangtastic Fiend. The music was harder, more stripped-down, the synthetic elements more relentless and devastating. Great slabs of gristly guitar were thrown into the Fiend cerebral centrifuge, spinning madly through songs like "Motherfucker Burn". It was a strobe light set to music inducing a hyper-stimulated sense of overload in the lucky listener---almost more Fiend than the mortal mind could encompass.
Which brings us back to the present. Still mutating faster than the normal brain can comprehend with their mega-musical tentacles reaching into uncharted lands of sight, sound, and sanity, Nik and Mrs Fiend remain a nefarious nucleus able to attract the finest in contributing satellites for their ravishing reverberations. "Para-Abnormal" is only the latest launch pad for this band's ongoing exploration of new sonic terrain. With the whispered potential of a new studio album we are sure to find this fungal fantasia of a group once again refusing to stand stock still. Where exactly they will take you, the listener, only the Fiendish ones know.
Evolve or die is firmly entrenched as mantra of choice in this strange new murderous millennium. With minds expanded and samplers blazing, Alien Sex Fiend show no signs of extinction.