Review & Track Premiere: Alunah, Violet Hour

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

alunah violet hour

[Click play above to stream ‘Hunt’ by Alunah, from Violet Hour out Oct. 11 on Heavy Psych Sounds. Bassist Dan Durchmore says of the track, “During the writing process, it became clear that different dynamics were emerging. ‘Hunt’ is built on our earlier style, but becomes its own entity as the song unfolds. Some of us consider this a favourite to play, so it feels right to let it loose ahead of the album release.”]

The tumult of a few chaotic years of reorganization brings UK doom rockers Alunah to a new place with Violet Hour, their fifth full-length. It’s also their first for Heavy Psych Sounds after issuing 2017’s Solennial (review here) on Svart,  2014’s Awakening the Forest (review here) through Napalm, 2012’s White Hoarhound (review here) on PsycheDOOMelic (then Napalm, then PRC Music) and 2010’s Call of Avernus (review here) on Catacomb, but really, the fact that each one of their records has come out through a different label is the least of it. Just months past the release of SolennialAlunah bid farewell to founding vocalist/guitarist Sophie Day in Sept. 2017, announcing little more than a month later that Siân Greenaway had taken on the role of lead singer. Founding guitarist David Day remained in the band alongside bassist Dan Burchmore and drummer Jake Mason — also an original member — through last year’s Amber & Gold EP (review here) that was the studio introduction to some of the sonic shifts taking place in the band, but earlier in 2019, David Day followed Sophie‘s lead in splitting from the band he helped form, and guitarist Dean Ashton was brought in to fill the role.

So Ashton, who has also handled bass for NWOBHM legends Diamond Head since 2016, is the newest member of Alunah, but apart from Mason, who’s been drumming since the start, in 2006, the longest-tenured member is Burchmore, who joined in 2013. Six years isn’t nothing, and certainly the rhythmic fluidity of the eight-track/42-minute Violet Hour has plenty to say in arguing for the development of the dynamic there, but to trade out your guitarist(s) and vocalist in a riff-led band over the span of two years and still turnaround with an EP and album feels somewhat miraculous. Either Alunah — whose sound has always locked into a relatively laid back groove, marked by some shuffle here and there, but mostly comfortable in a thickened doom roll topped with righteous melody — thrive on this chaos, or it’s been an incredibly stressful time.

And though there are some ways in which Violet Hour feels like a second debut from what’s essentially a new band — Call of Avernus also followed a test-the-waters EP, way back when — a striking amount of the approach remains in accord with their past work. No doubt production from Chris Fielding at Foel Studio has a hand in that as well. Greenaway demonstrated her craft and charisma on Amber & Gold, and whether it’s the outwardly sexualized “Trapped and Bound” or “Hunt,” the ultra-catchy “Hypnotised” or the more doomed “Unholy Disease,” the personality of her work here is both malleable to the mood of the groove behind her and of a steady, engaging melodic quality. As both sides of the album feature four songs with two shorter-ish cuts leading into two longer-ish ones, there is a sense amid all the circumstantial fluster in which the album arrives that there’s still an overarching plan at work, and that goes a long way toward letting the listener relax and take Violet Hour on its own merits, which of course is how it’s best heard.

alunah

After the EP, it’s less of a surprise that Alunah have moved away from some of the nature-worship that previously defined their lyrical themes, but “Dance of Deceit,” the penultimate “Velvet,” the closer “Lake of Fire” and “Hunt” still have an organic sensibility to how they play out, and though “Trapped and Bound” provides an almost jarring push at the outset, as the entirety of side A seems devoted to trickery and dark seduction between that launch, “Dance of Deceit,” “Hunt” and “Hypnotised,” the energy with which Alunah carry across the material only bolsters the notion of Violet Hour as a new full-length debut from what’s essentially a new band. The advantage they have, however, is a clear sense of direction and an immediately apparent awareness of who they want to be and what they want to convey as a group, which even as they build chemistry together in this new form over time, is only an advantage for them.

Is it fair to judge Violet Hour by the standard of Alunah‘s other offerings? Probably. They did keep the name. But what Violet Hour does in relation to, say, Solennial, isn’t so radically different from what that album did coming off of Awakening the Forest. It builds on what came before and progresses toward new ideas and new manifestations of a high quality songwriting process that, speaking as one who’s been a fan of the band for some time, is thankfully still intact despite the changes in personnel, as “Hypnotised,” the side-B-leadoff title-track and “Lake of Fire” can easily testify. The lushness of Greenaway‘s layered harmony arrangements bodes well for future ongoing progression — more of that would only be welcome — and though Ashton has been in the band a mere matter of months, his contributions of harder-edged tone and lead work mesh well with the long-since established coherence between Burchmore and Mason.

Violet Hour may have arisen through a turbulent stretch for them, but the songs stand true and want for nothing either in aesthetic or performance. Perhaps tellingly, as “Unholy Disease” takes off in its second half, the band seem particularly steady locked into that faster stretch, but there’s much to be said for the slow-rolling payoff in the hook for “Lake of Fire” as well, so if the band are growing, that’s the most consistent thing they could possibly do. That’s what Alunah have always done. One has learned the hard way over the years not to attempt prediction of what their situation might be in the future, but Violet Hour is a bold stride, and an album rife with character, melody, heft and impact. No doubt there will be those who write it off because of the lineup changes — that’s just the way it always goes with this kind of thing — but it’s their loss in the end, and easy to imagine fresh ears catching on as well. Fair enough, as Alunah set a whole new high standard from which to work as they continue forward, which one hopes — without predicting how it might happen — that they do.

Alunah, Violet Hour (2019)

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Alunah Release Violet Hour Oct. 11; Preorders Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

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We knew this news was coming last week when Alunah were announced as being picked up by Heavy Psych Sounds and the pre-sale date for their next record was given as this past Thursday. Violet Hour is the name of the record and it’ll be out Oct. 11. Preorders are indeed up right at this very moment, and I’m particularly interested to hear what it might sound like as not only will it be the band’s first album with Siân Greenaway on vocals — she also sang on last year’s Amber and Gold EP (review here) — but also with guitarist Dean Ashton, who plays bass in Diamond Head. Essentially they’ve revamped half the band since their last full-length, which is a considerable amount of change. How will that change the atmosphere, dynamic, theme, etc.? Well, the EP was a preview, but I look forward to finding out the real deal upon the album’s arrival, or preferably, before.

PR wire info follows here:

alunah violet hour

Heavy Psych Sounds to start the presale of ALUNAH new album VIOLET HOUR

ALBUM PRESALE: https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/shop.htm#HPS112

USA PRESALE via All That Is Heavy: https://allthatisheavy.com/search?type=product&q=alunah

RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 11th

On the back of last year’s critically acclaimed “Amber & Gold” EP, Alunah return with “Violet Hour”, the new album and first for Heavy Psych Sounds (Brant Bjork, Nebula, Nick Oliveri).

“Violet Hour” sees the energy of Alunah’s dark, doom tinged hard rock being cranked up with the arrival of guitarist Dean Ashton (bass, Diamond Head) alongside the soaring vocals of Sian Greenaway and rhythmic foundation of Dan Burchmore and Jake Mason. Recorded at the historic Welsh Foel Studio and produced by Chris Fielding (Conan, Electric Wizard, Primordial) the 8 tracks on display show the fruits of a productive early 2019 with a searing combination of melodies, riffs and focused writing. From the opening combination of “Trapped & Bound” and “Dance of Deceit” the album pulls the listener in to an ominous world brought to life by artist “Felipe Froeder – Arcano XV” and doesn’t let go until the brooding finale “Lake of Fire”.

With roots dating back to 2006 in “Sabbath City” UK and an evolution that has grown over four previous albums and numerous European tours/festival dates, the momentum now picks up the pace. A UK summer tour with The Obsessed and an appearance at this year’s prestigious Damnation Festival have just been confirmed with further live dates to TBA.

AVAILABLE IN :
40 ULTRA LTD TEST PRESS VINYL
250 LTD ORANGE Trasp. Background SPLATTER in Purple-Black-Blue VINYL
500 LTD PURPLE VINYL
BLACK VINYL
DIGIPAK
DIGITAL

TRACKLIST
Trapped & Bound
Dance of Deceit
Hunt
Hypnotised
Violet Hour
Unholy Disease
Velvet
Lake of Fire

UK tour w/The Obsessed:
17.7 Coventry The Arches
18.7 Glasgow Audio
19.7 Manchester Rebellion
20.7 Bristol Exchange

Alunah is:
Siân Greenaway – Vocals
Dean Ashton – Guitar
Daniel Burchmore – Bass
Jake Mason – Drums

http://www.facebook.com/alunah.doom
http://twitter.com/#!/alunah_doom
http://alunah.bandcamp.com
http://www.alunah.co.uk

Alunah, Amber and Gold (2018)

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