EMI - 2001- 43 minutes

Aslan, the great underachievers of the Irish music scene, have finally come out of hibernation with their latest album 'Waiting For This Madness To End'. Their self-imposed exile, except for a live album, has lasted nearly five years and their fans are desperate for their homegrown heroes to swagger back into view.

Extended periods of silence are not always a positive thing, as demonstrated by The Stone Roses' 'Second Coming'. Thankfully, Aslan's brief sojourn appears to have done them a world of good. 'Waiting For This Madness To End' is a great record. It has all the hallmarks of Aslan, thoughtful lyrics, great melodies and a sheer bloody-minded refusal to toe the musical line.

On an album of highlights it's hard to pick out the standout tracks, although 'Up In Arms', featuring vocals from her holiness Sinéad O'Connor, is a real treat. Everything that is great about this album is summed up by this track. Vocals as crisp as cut glass, lyrics that are meant to make you think, and possibly the best producer that Aslan have ever had on an album.

'I'm On Your Side' shows the Aslan the fans love. It's a tale of self-doubt, of misery, and Christy standing alongside them, telling them that they live and die on their own terms. A message, which, in these days of sugar coated Westlife and Bono's self-aggrandisement, is very refreshing.

So Aslan are back, the lion is roaring and fans and critics alike should take note, here is a group that embody what music should be about. Love the album, hate the album, you've got to give them their dues.

John Raftery

Tracklisting: Friend, Different Man, She's So Beautiful, Love Is All You Need, Up In Arms, Six Days To Zero, All The World's Against You, Comfort Me, I'm On Your Side, Hang On