‘Solennial’ racks up album number four for Alunah and this one has been on our ‘most eagerly awaited’ list for quite a while. We can’t pretend that we’ve been following Alunah from the very beginning of their 11 year career, but we’ve fallen in love with them over the last couple of albums and the many gigs and festivals we’ve seen them at.
Alunah are a band that have carved a constant upward trajectory through their history. Every release seems to build on the last and every time we see them live we’re blown away even more than the previous time. With (last album) ‘Awakening the Forest’ we thought that the band had just about peaked and reached perfection. ‘Solennial’ has the almost impossible task of living up to that one then…
Well, to cut a long story short and ruin any suspense, ‘Solennial’ has once again upped the game for Alunah. Not that we ever had any doubts, really! The album flows like fresh mountain stream and although made up of eight tracks, it sounds like one complete piece of work. A rarity in this Spotify playlist age, but then you wouldn’t expect anything other than classy work from this band.
Opener ‘The Dying Soil’ is a gentle and soulful intro to the record and immediately shows off Sophie’s voice stripped of the usual waves of doom that accompanies it. Inevitably those walls of heavy fuzz soon arrive in style for the ‘Light of Winter’ and we’re in business!
The pace and balance of the record ebbs and flows beautifully and on first listen you never know what will be coming next. ‘Feast of Torches’ starts of with another solo vocal from Sophie before the curtains open on some driving Alunah doom swagger. This one should be a real treat played live with a strong chorus line and real upbeat momentum to the music. We might get to find out where the make vocal comes from too.
We’ve already fallen for ‘Solennial’ before ‘Fire of Thornborough Henge’ arrives, but it just keeps getting better. We might be a bit biased because we’ve been hearing this one for a while, but this has to be close to the best song the band have ever written. A track that typifies what Alunah do so effectively with the clean melodic vocals working alongside the dirty great riffs; as much as this record is one majestic single piece of work, this is one track that you can call a standout.
‘Petrichor’ wafts in on the breeze with a warming glow and eases you into the second half of the album. As satisfying as a cuppa and a fag after a big lunch.
The whole album is sounds beautifully earthy and organic. Even the inclusion of a cover doesn’t interrupt the flow with The Cure’s ‘A Forest’ slipping in to finish off the album with a slightly more bouncy theme.
Pretty much anything that comes out of Skyhammer Studio catches our attention and Chris Fielding has done another cracking job with this one. Sophie’s vocals gleam in the production but those little Paradise Lost style guitar passages are magic to CB’s ears. Of course there are plenty of towering riffs to keep us happy too, it’s not all over-polished to the point that you can see your face in it. The whole band have put in a shift to be proud of here.
‘Solennial’ is the sound of a very confident band who are more than comfortable in their craft. It’s the sound of a band who don’t appear to be shackled down; they’ve just gone out and written an album that sounds like a completely natural progression for them and ‘Solennial’ is already cemented as one of our favourite albums of the year. A stunning piece of work from a very classy band indeed!
‘Solennial’ is out now via Svart records and you can catch them live soon too:
31/03/17 UK – The Chameleon, Nottingham
06/04/17 UK – The Flapper, Birmingham
07/04/17 UK – Bannermans, Edinburgh
08/04/17 UK – Rebellion, Manchester
09/04/17 UK – The Lounge, London
06/05/17 NL – Metal Front, Coevorden
08/05/17 BE- Music City, Antwerp
11/05/17 CH- Coq d’Or, Olten (CH)
12/05/17 IT – Bloom, Mezzago