Wednesday, 1 October 2014

ALUNAH - Awakening The Forest (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 3 October 2014
Label: Napalm Records

The songs:

1. Bricket Wood Coven
2. Heavy Bough
3. Awakening The Forest
4. The Mask Of Herne
5. Scourge And The Kiss
6. The Summerland

The Band:

Sophie Day | vocals & guitar
David Day | guitar
Jake Mason | drums
Dan Burchmore - bass guitar

Back in 2012 I had the great honour of reviewing Alunah's excellent second album, 'White Hoarhound'. So, it was a no-brainer to accept the offer of writing about their new wax, 'Awakening The Forest'. Before I continue, two rather significant changes have occured for the band since last time that needs to be mentioned. First off, bass player Gaz Imber has been replaced by Dan Burchmore and secondly, Alunah are now signed to Napalm Records after the sad demise of psycheDOOMelic Records. Now, please join me as I attempt to give an amazing album by a great band the credit they deserve.

Having always focused on nature and the mysteries that the old mother emanates, Alunah has also brought in other inspirations. This time around though, the band has really embraced Mother Nature and steered their creative forces towards her. Tales of withcraft and magic are still present which is only natural since especially witchcraft has strong ties with nature.

Slow, captivating, spellbinding and hypnotic, 'Bricket Wood Coven' opens up the proceedings and I am immediately hooked. Beautiful and mesmerizing it is clear that Alunah have found their way, or path, and they keep pushing the limits. Starting off almost Candlemass-sounding, 'Heavy Bough' quickly changes to some nice Sabbath inspired playing. Of course, once Sophie starts to sing her etheral voice alters the texture of the song as I feel the ancient forces of nature envelop me. The title track follows next and begins in a very hypnotic way, pulling me deep into the song. Once I'm fully devoured by it, 'Awakening The Forest' works it's magic and I see the true beauty of a forest waking up from a winter's sleep.

Heavy on fuzz pedal riffs 'The Mask Of Herne' is a beast. The contrasts of slow heavy doom against Sophie's dreamy yet commanding voice plays a huge part in Alunah creating their own sound. It's no more apparent on this song and while it, as well as the other songs, starts out a certain way, the band always change them up only to return to the beginning. Cyclical is probably the best word for it and Alunah has mastered this excellently. 'Scourge And The Kiss' is the most "proper" doom song on the album. Slightly faster than the others for the most part, it's more erie and foreboding in typical doom fashion. The guitar interplay between Sophie and David is amazing, not that it's ever bad, but here they really excel. Beautiful! All great things have to come to end and 'Awakening The Forest' is unfortunately not exempt from this. However, when you end an album with a song like 'The Summerland' everything is forgiven. While the theme of the song is still within the sphere of nature, the structure of it is different. Dreamy, soaring, meditative and progressive (almost) in approach, it is the perfect way to end a fantastic album.

What can I say? Alunah is one of England's best bands and although it's been a long wait - well, two years can be a long time for a fan and everything is relative - for 'Awakening The Forest' to be released, they are now dead set for greatness and the exposure they truly deserve. They have a true gem in their hands and the sky is the limit for them. So, do yourself the favour and the band as well and get your hands on this amazing wax!

Words by Håkan Nyman

Thanks to Mona, Jon and Andy for the promo to review. Awakening The Forest will be available to buy from Napalm Records from October 3rd 2014.

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