THAT the Alarm have such a clear sense of who they are as the band approaches its 40th year is nothing short of extraordinary - and this is none more apparent on their latest release ΣSigma.

Despite being the second in an inextricable pair of records named after mathematical symbols - ΣSigma was originally intended as part of a double album with 2018’s =Equals - there is nothing that's by the numbers here.

In fact, the album open ups the entirety of the band's back catalogue for reinterpretation, evolving many of the band's hallmarks such as driving, primal drums and tightly crafted three minute tunes, recalling Peters' punk heritage, yet informed by a range of influences - including a short burst of proggy keyboards from Jules - build a new soundscape on firm foundations.

Penned alongside its 2018 predecessor within a Glan Clwyd Hospital ward, while front man Mike Peters’ wife Jules underwent chemotherapy, ΣSigma triumphs at leaving behind the cold clinical confines of its birthplace to create a truly warm and life affirming record.

That isn’t to say that the all to human desperation of the family’s battles with cancer – including Mike’s own life with leukaemia - aren’t front and centre on the record’s earlier tracks, with a particularly haunting single piano note coda to track four Time recalling the beep of an ECG.

Yet it is this somewhat downcast moment that ultimately leads a tonal sea change for the album, opening it up to a joyous reconciliation and a sincere celebration of a 'carpe diem' spirit that persists long after the album’s 46 minute runtime.

It’s track five Psalm where ΣSigma truly shines, bringing the whole band back to often isolated figure of Mike on earlier tracks Blood Red Viral Black, creating a reverent and revelatory turning point that incorporates band mates Jules, Steve 'Smiley' Barnard and James Stevenson harmoniously for an effort that is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

Fans of the band who were forced to face difficult truths on =Equals are given the second part of the formula through soundscape sandbox through which to finally complete the narrative voyage.

This is gifted to listeners on tracks such as Can You Feel Me? and =Equals - which features a cameo from founding member Dave Sharp.

Closing with the opening track of =Equals, Two Rivers, ultimately, the story of ΣSigma is one that successfully brings Peters' 'Dark night of the Soul' full circle with an optimism that suggests the best is yet is yet to come from the galvanised Welsh icons, who seem to be very much in their element going forward.

ΣSigma is available now on all major streaming services and record shops.