If you want to start a great doom band it seems the first thing you need is to be from Birmingham.
The legendary Black Sabbath who started it all hail from the midland city as do exciting new prospects Alunah.
Alunah, led by Soph Day have been around for some eight years now, steadily building up a reputation as one of the UK’s finest acts. It’s the last four of those years that things have really started to take off with this their third album proving you can still challenge convention and put out some great music while doing so. Not content with the four minute mark ten track average that is standard issue the band have created a full album out of just six longer than normal tracks. And do you know what, it works a treat.
You’d expect with songs running out at anything up to nine minutes long I’d be rattling on about how they could have clipped them to keep up the interest level. The truth is though the way each track is constructed with real groove and warmth they could all be twice as long and still not become tedious. It takes great skill to construct music in such a free flowing manner. It’s almost as if Alunah have a heart of metal, a head of classical and a soul of folk. Songs such as Bricket Wood Coven and The Summerland epitomise this where on first listen you may only get the heavier more obvious side.
Listen closer though and there are distinctive movements in the songs, it’s the reason they keep you engaged. There’s also an earthy side to the album too and not just because of the title. Soph Day’s vocals might have a similar tempo and pitch as his holiness Ozzy Osbourne but her delivery is soothing rather than demented. She sounds like she wants to save bats not bite their heads off. With a theme that has more to do with myth and magic than politics or personal introspection Awakening The Forest works so well because it is both familiar and yet unexplored all at the same time.
There is a distinct lack of pace change which means that towards the midway point many might find things start to get a bit hard going. It’s a bit like driving on an arrow straight road on the fens, very pretty but after a while it becomes quite predictable. It’s predictably good but could do with a bend or crossroads to liven it up a tad. For those that like doom though it will come as a relief that at last we have a band not yet able to qualify for a bus pass that can really do the genre justice in its original form. Of course there are others around but none that I’ve heard match Alunah in terms of playing it straight.
Awakening The Forest is a giant stride in the right direction from a band with all the credentials to become metal legends.