Awakening the Forest
(Napalm Records)

Alunah has left a gigantic foot print in the doom genre already. Evading the sophomore jinx, their previous album, White Hoarhound (2012, PsycheDOOMelic), continued to floor fans and critics; just as their debut full length had, Call of Avernus (2010, Catacomb Records). I recall reading the review of their initial ep, Fall to Earth (2008, Catacomb Records) on and quickly purchased it. I have been slowly banging my head to this Sabbathian riff machine since.

Evoking the foreboding mood of Alunah’s home, the same dilapidated industrial shell of declining factories and tower blocks as Black Sabbath’s inspiration, Birmingham, England has molded Alunah’s eerie sound. Fuzz drenched guitars push a slow plodding pace. Soph Day’s voice is not angelic and not growled. She approaches the mic with a subdued looming croon that warns and simultaneously seduces.

“Awakening the Forest” is a codeine drenched display of precision. Patient, the track hides under a cloak of a riff that covers all surroundings. The middle of the eight minute track is a tempered build with a smooth guitar solo. The two short songs run to the six minute mark. The six tracks run to forty-five minutes. “Scourge and The Kiss” has a down-tuned, swinging riff, the just stays shy of full gear. The dirty road riff is similar to an Earthride or Kyuss, but always remins an Alunah tune with Soph Day’s singing and smoky atmosphere. This riff, though, certainly is volcanic in the final third of the song.

Lyrically, the songs sound like invocations. Tales of Majik and Pagan inquiries stamp each track, and the artwork. Regardless of the execution, the starting point is of true loss and pain. “I wrote the lyrics when I’d just lost my dad, nan and grandad. It was a pretty bleak time for me. I thought a lot about death, but didn’t want the lyrical theme to be depressing. I was reading around the subject of life cycles and how pagans deal with death. I also believe in making a difference while we’re here.“ Soph Day, my interview.

Awakening the Forest is a paradigm of doom metal. if you want to scrap over genre-splitting titles, go ahead. Alunah lands on the cleaner production side. This is not Bongripper or Triptykon. The opener perfectly sets the mood. “Brick Wood Coven” has that Iommi tremolo meander over a sparse groove embedded rhythm section that echoes through the album. Alunah know how to use quiet and omission as well as a riff. [Soph] Day croons beautifully and the slow riffs will propel you to sway in agreement. Lyrics speak of spirits and nature’s power. Every check on the doom list is authentic and leaves a yearning for next year’s output.

FFO: The Skull, Earth, Black Pyramid, Hour of 13, The Gates of Slumber (Hutch)

Purchase Awakening the Forest here.

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