Bearing the weight of the phenomenal ‘White Hoarhound’ on their shoulders, Alunah have a lot to live up to in ‘Awakening The Forest’. Hailing from Birmingham, a city known for spewing out it’s own fair share of doom, more notably, a little up and coming doom band by the name of Black Sabbath. Jokes aside, Alunah are fast becoming an ever shining diamond in the rough,and if their previous album is anything to go by, this promises to be quite the gloomy affair. Expect huge riffs.
From the first chords of ‘Bricket Wood Coven’, you’re reminded of that rich warm tone that made people fall for this band in the first place, as well as the hypnotizing vocals of Soph Day, who is like a siren drawing sailors to their untimely demise. But instead of jagged rocks, these hardy men (and lady) of the sea have slow, stoner like grooves to smash their faces against. It’s pretty clear that Alunah are maintaining the same level as their previous album which a very high level indeed.
‘Heavy Bough’ is where the riffs begin. Very heavy on the fuzz, it’s like they’re straight out of the 1970s complete with all the dodgy mustaches a guy could ask for. The music is in no rush to get anywhere, it’s like a leisurely stroll through a dark forest, and spending your time time feeding deer and picking mushrooms, very rewarding in its own way. The slow pace at which ATF pulls its self along continues through that hypothetical forest is relentless, and although it moves, it trundles along like a sloth yet its presence is gargantuan. Much like a horde of ents, on their way to Isangard to confront Saruman.
As the album progresses, the measuring stick set by White Hoarhound is smashed into a million pieces. It’s a shame that some of the atmosphere from the previous effort is gone, but the musicianship and songwriting in its place makes up for it to say the least. The sound is monumentally cleaner, and gives the band a slick, dazzling veneer that we’ve not seen before, especially on Soph’s vocals and the solos. It’s an obvious step up to what the band were previously, I’m not saying they were bad before, far from it. It’s just that now they’ve hit a higher plateau that puts them amongst the finest in UK doom.
There’s a real intent from Alunah in this album, they’re obviously ready to take that massive leap forward, and Awakening The Forest insures that they stay there. It’s astonishing how far of a progression it is in terms of sheer quality, and like I said before, they belong amongst the best and the brightest, in mean, umm, gloomiest bands of the genre.
With bands like Cathedral and Orange Goblin flying the flag for UK doom, the Birmingham 4 piece are mere footsteps behind, if not, on par with quality, they just lack the years of touring and building the name. You can rest assured that they’ll get there in the end though, especially with albums like this.
Already a massive fan of Alunah, I was already aware of the brilliance that was White Hoarhound, and to say they smashed it this time around with this release is somewhat of an understatement.