Awakening the Forest

Written by: EW on 03/11/2014 23:31:04

Adding further credence to the doom/stoner metal scene, notably that of the female-fronted variety, are British foursome Alunah who here on album number three "Awakening the Forest" have penned six easy-going tracks which have made for pleasant listening over recent weeks. Ardent fans of the genre will know that the ‘female-fronted’ tag is certainly not a derogatory one (as anyone who knows my burning love for Jex Thoth will attest) but a useful means of comparing the vocal efficiencies of Alunah’s Sophie Day against that of other similarly structured acts, of which there now counts a many. Alunah’s slow, relaxed, carefree vibe sits somewhere in between the groove of Witch, the ethereal beauty of Mount Salem and the baked tones of Acid King - the resulting concoction being a somewhat middle-of-the-road sound for the genre with little in the way of imminently identifiable elements coming from any of the four members but one that is perfectly amenable to fans of the genre nonetheless.

After numerous playbacks to the riffing melodies of "Heavy Bough" and the more washed out "The Mask of Herne" I can’t help but feel Alunah are playing too much within themselves, that there is more potential waiting to be unleashed. Or perhaps these feeling comes from the lugubrious pace which while redolent of the doom genre feels tired a bit too often to set the pulses racing. And perhaps the final element of this non-plussed reaction to solidly constructed songs which house a decent collection of riffs within are the satisfactory vocals of Day which gently go about their business without any of the mystery, vigour or blood of more celebrated acts of the genre (hereby referencing one Jessica Bowen of the Thoth, among others). It’s all very content to play it safe when greater experimentation is necessary to garner higher marks: take the refrained mid-section of "Scourge and the Kiss" which drifts on aimlessly through a wah-lead solo and hollow soundscape until the power button is finally pressed, although by this point the sense that a decent organ/keys backing would not have gone amiss to create a deeper layer of atmosphere to proceedings. Or how about much of closing track "The Summerland" which plods along for 9 minutes towards a rather wet and tame conclusion for the album, the very opposite manner in which it begun.

Yep, opener "Bricket Wood Coven" (named after the nearby village to me I wonder…) does everything the first riff of an album should, namely offer sufficient encouragement of bright times ahead and works well as the template for the tracks fulsome eight minutes to work from. The lead riff to "Heavy Bough" is worth writing home about too: catchy, doom-laden and played at just the right tempo - pity it at track two it marks the last high point of proceedings. Though the production may be clear and bassy its lack of punch could be levied as a charge across "Awakening the Forest" as a whole as early promise is lost in a showing tempered by muted song-writing and performance skills. Definite support act material.

Download: Bricket Wood Coven, Heavy Bough
For The Fans Of: Acid King, Mount Salem, Witch
Listen: Facebook

Release date 03.10.2014
Napalm Records

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