Transfer, audio restoration and mastering by Patrick W. Engel at TEMPLE OF DISHARMONY in July 2022.
Along with Mercyful Fate, Pretty Maids and Witch Cross, Copenhagen’s very own Alien Force were one of the earliest heavy metal bands in Denmark. Influenced by Judas Priest, Accept, Saxon and Iron Maiden, the band was formed in 1984 in the Østerbro district of the Danish capital by guitarist Henrik Rasmussen (with Zeyking being the direct forerunner to Alien Force).
After talking to numerous record companies, the band’s 1985 debut album »Hell And High Water« was eventually released by Telaeg in Germany.
In 1986 Alien Force recorded their second full-length album called »Pain And Pleasure«. Henrik Rasmussen explains: “After »Hell And High Water« the record company Telaeg closed, and we started looking for record companies to be able to follow up the album. But it was a difficult time for metal bands in the mid-1980s. So we decided to publish »Pain And Pleasure« on our own record company. We went to the bank and borrowed a lot of money without owning a single penny.”
“On »Hell And High Water« we were four musicians in the band,” continues Rasmussen, “but we quickly found out that if we were to play live, we needed an additional guitarist. That’s why we got in Michael Wenzel on second guitar for the recording of the »Pain And Pleasure« album. So the line-up on this was: Peter Swallow on vocals, Michael Rasmussen on drums, Michael Øesterfelt on bass and Michael Wenzel and me on guitar. We sadly lost Michael Wenzel to cancer years back.”
“Unfortunately, shortage of money had too much of an impact on »Pain And Pleasure«,” regrets the guitarist, “we had to book where there was room, and when there was room in different studies in Copenhagen, we could not afford to book for a long period of time. So we ended up running around with the master tape under our arm from studio to studio. Unfortunately, I think you can hear that on the finished product.”
As well as recording the record on their own accord, Alien Force also pressed and distributed »Pain And Pleasure« all on their own: “I think the record was pressed somewhere in Germany, and I think we did 500 copies. We got a distribution company to get the record out in the shops, and in addition to that we sold them at our gigs. The record was difficult to sell through distribution channels because we were at the bottom of the list when the company sold new records to record stores. So the best sales happened when we were out playing. Hard to say how long it took to sell them all ... quite a long time, I think.”
The reactions of press and fans were very varied back in 1986: “»Hell And High Water« was recorded as a four-piece with a different atmosphere, which was difficult to transfer to »Pain And Pleasure«. The songs became more complex and the arrangements more challenging. But the production was the most challenging part of the record, and the final result was not very good in own opinion. I think that came to mean something to the fans, it was harder to reach them, even though several of the songs are really strong, I think. On »Pain And Pleasure« a lot of time was spent on rehearsals, events etc. The record was perhaps more thoroughly worked out, but we had lost the simplicity of the songs. I think »Hell And High Water« is stronger because of what I have just said, but »Pain And Pleasure« probably has the better songs. A better production could have made »Pain And Pleasure« a superior album. But that’s just my opinion. ‘Through The Gates Of Hell’ definitely is my favourite song on »Pain And Pleasure«.”
The album consisted of eight songs altogether, but Alien Force did record another three, namely “In The City”, “Out For My Mind” and “Fool For the Night”. “These songs were made after »Pain And Pleasure«,” explains Henrik Rasmussen, “it was just some demo stuff. We could well have gone in that direction after the second album, but that’s hard to say. Michael Wenzel and I started writing together a lot at that time, so that was probably the way we sounded at this point in our career.”
Henrik stresses that Alien Force never actually formally split up: “We have always had contact with each other, and always played music together in one form or another. We may have, in fact, just stood still to gather strength for one more round with the band. We have tried one at a time to get started again, but among other things the loss of Michael Wenzel made it difficult. After »Pain And Pleasure« it simply became too difficult for us to keep our heads high, we did not have many gigs, and times changed in the late 1980s. We tried to keep up, but had to take a break. Like in other bands, there were disagreements and we gave up continuing. But we never officially split up, it just turned into a very long break (laughs).”