Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Funny, I just last night had Alunah‘s “Oak Ritual” from last year’s White Hoarhound stuck in my head, and now here I am with an excuse to revisit the album. Having already reissued the full-length through Spinning Goblin Productions/Napalm Records, the naturalist British psych-doomers have announced a handful of tour dates as a result of joining forces with Euro-booking powerhouse Sound of Liberation. An announcement on that just came down the PR wire, as well as a link to where one fortunate enough to be within range of going can purchase a ticket to see Alunah at the 02 Academy in Birmingham with Saint Vitus and Mos Generator. Damn that’s a good show.
In case you were also looking for an excuse to revisit White Hoarhound, I humbly submit the following:
ALUNAH JOIN WITH SOUND OF LIBERATION BOOKING & ANNOUNCE FIRST EUROPEAN TOUR DATES!
Alunah are proud to be working with Sound Of Liberation, the well respected booking agency will be handling all future European dates for Alunah, starting with dates in March, April and May. These dates mark Alunah’s first gigs outside of the United Kingdom.
Sound Of Liberation are the booking agency behind such events as DesertFest Berlin, Up in Smoke, Brainbanger’s Ball and Santa Psychedelia. Artists who Alunah will be joining on the roster include Ahab, The Atomic Bitchwax, Belzebong, Black Pyramid, Colour Haze, Fatso Jetson, Truckfighters and Ufomammut amongst many others.
European Alunah Dates:
Sound Of Liberation proudly presents the following Alunah dates. Please forward any European booking enquiries regarding Alunah to email@example.com or visit their website at www.soundofliberation.com. Booking enquiries within the UK should still be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org.
31/03: Alunah, The Skeletons, Cultura Tres @ Les Combustibles, Paris 27/04: DesertFest Berlin @ Astra Kulturhaus – Berlin, Germany 28/04: Date TBC – email email@example.com for booking requests 29/04: Belzebong, Alunah @ Römer – Bremen, Germany 30/04: Ufomammut, Belzebong, Alunah + 1 TBC @ Club Puschkin – Dresden, Germany 01/05: Date TBC – email firstname.lastname@example.org for booking requests 02/05: Date TBC – email email@example.com for booking requests 03/05: Heavy Days in Doom Town Festival @ Ungdomshuset – Copenhagen, Denmark
Alunah will also be supporting St. Vitus in Birmingham at The O2 Academy on 13th March, reduced £10 tickets are available from Alunah’s Bandcamp!
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s no coincidence that just about every time I post something about UK doomers Alunah, it’s good news. The band, who issued the most chorus-rich White Hoarhound (review here) on CD through PsycheDOOMelic and subsequently signed to Napalm Records heavy imprint Spinning Goblin Productions, have today released the album on vinyl and been added to the lineup for the 2013 Berlin Desertfest. I had the chance to catch Alunah live last year in London and they were right on. Always killer to see cool stuff happen to good bands.
Desertfest sends over word of their addition. Dig it:
Today, January 25, is a great day for the English band ALUNAH ! First Napalm Records officially release their 2nd album in vinyl. And then, they are confirmed for the DESERTFEST BERLIN 2013 !! Birmingham based ALUNAH is a Psyche/Stoner/Doom band which unleashes an incredible paganistic sound characterized by thick guitars, a punishing rhythm section, and earthy and hypnotic vocal melodies. Sometimes groovy, oppressive, or downright grimy depending on what the situation calls for, the songs are dark and slow without being downers !
Billed as the “Future of Doom” by Terrorizer Magazine, ALUNAH’s “White Hoarhound”, their 2nd full-length album was released in September 2012 on PsycheDOOMelic Records, and is now officially available on vinyl on Napalm Record !This album is the follow-up to their debut “Call of Avernus” released in late 2010, and their EP “Fall to Earth” in 2008.
Consisting of Soph Day (vocals and guitar), Dave Day (guitar), Gaz Imber (bass) and Jake Mason (drums), ALUNAH have spent the last 6 years building up a reputation for being one of the most hardworking and consistent live bands by playing national dates and festivals (Desertfest London, Desert Storm Birmingham) with international artists such as Fu Manchu, Orange Goblin, Karma to Burn, Acid King, Witchcraft, Graveyard, The Storm and shortly High on Fire !
Even though their reputation as a great live band is already built, they never played beyond UK… Damn !… so many of us have never seen them !
Fortunately, the DESERTFEST BERLIN is here to fix that lack ! Be there !!
It comes and goes from the ether of the mental jukebox, but the chorus of the title-track to Alunah‘s White Hoarhoundis never far off. Its resonant melody, rich tones and ethereal subject matter stand the band’s PsycheDOOMelic label debut — second album overall behind 2010′s Call of Avernus — in line with rich traditions within British rock, from late ’60s psychedelic pop to thunderous modern doom and massively fuzzed riffing. White Hoarhound(review here) and Call of Avernus(review here) are both strikingly cohesive outings from a still relatively nascent four-piece, but the newer record sets itself apart in an atmosphere and thematic geared toward pre-Christian nature-worship and particularly the rich pagan history of the British Isles.
Songs like “The Offering,” “Belial’s Fjord,” and “Chester Midsummer Watch Parade” hone in on these ideas — as, I suppose, do the title-cut, opener “Demeter’s Grief” and the closing duo of “Oak Ritual I” and “Oak Ritual II” — but more to the point in terms of listening to the album, they do so with a clear-headed musicality, subtle psychedelic essence and gorgeous songwriting. Guitarist/vocalist Sophie Day (more often shortened just to Soph), fellow guitarist Dave Day, bassist Gaz Imber and drummer Jake Mason execute a tonal thickness that’s second to few whose entire schtick isn’t tonal thickness, but do so without sacrificing choruses that are memorable for more than just being heavy. As much as the riff of “Demeter’s Grief” launches the album in lumbering form, and as much as Imber‘s bass earns high marks across the board, it’s the songs themselves that stand out. Even the acoustic-led “Oak Ritual I” — on which Tony Reed, who mixed and mastered the Greg Chandler production, donates guest organ — leaves a lasting impression.
As Soph says herself on “Oak Ritual II,” “The connection to the earth feels electric this time.” Alunah have set themselves a path with White Hoarhound, and should they choose to walk it and develop their sound from what they present on these seven tracks, there’s little to limit whatever their contribution might become. It’s a special moment for the band, and given that, I wanted to hit the band up to get some idea of what went into making the songs and the album, their origins and plans going forward.
Soph was kind enough to accommodate. For those in the UK, Alunah are playing Nov. 10 at The Gas Works in Bradford and Nov. 16 in Birmingham at Asylum Birmingham with Gentlemens Pistols. More info on that at the links below. Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:
1. Tell me about writing White Hoarhound. How and when did the songs start to come together? What was the first song you wrote for the album and how did it come about?
We gigged and toured Call of Avernus for quite a while, and all of our practices were taken up with us playing the songs off Avernus so we were itching to start coming up with new ideas. We probably started seriously thinking about the second album around the beginning of 2011. The first song we wrote was “Chester Midsummer Watch Parade,” we had a strong idea of how we wanted the album to sound and “CMWP” embodied that perfectly. Dave wrote the riff for it and it was just perfectly dark and moody whilst at the same time being uplifting and groovy. We’re not a dark, depressing band by any means but we do have that side to us, and “CMWP” captures that side to us whilst at the same time celebrating the Midsummer in typical Alunah style. As soon as we wrote it we started playing it live — the rest of the songs didn’t get a live airing until the middle of 2012.
2. In terms of putting the record together and structuring the songs one into the next, was “Oak Ritual II” always going to be the album closer? Did that song come first or the acoustic part before it?
Once we finished the songs it was a tossup between “Belial’s Fjord” or “Oak Ritual II” for the album closer and I think we made a good choice. “Oak Ritual” originally sounded quite different, and we only titled it in the studio. We moved the structure of the song around quite a lot, Dave and I had a jam at home and came up with the idea for “Oak Ritual I.” We went to rehearsal and played it to Gaz and Jake, from there we based the final “Oak Ritual II” on it so they kind of fed off each other in terms of which came first. The final “Oak Ritual I” wasn’t developed until we recorded it — the most of what you hear on the recording is Dave jamming on the acoustic. Same with all the backing vocals, they were las- minute studio additions, I’m so glad we did them too.
3. What is your lyric-writing process like? The lyrics on White Hoarhound seem to be coming from a quiet kind of place — they’re not really angry, sometimes sad, but still really thoughtful. Are there any rituals you have for writing the lyrics to get in the right mindset?
That’s a really nice summary of what I also feel about the lyrics. I don’t get into a ritual at all, with Avernus I remember sitting down and thinking “right, I’m going to write some lyrics,” but with Hoarhound I didn’t. The only song I really remember sitting down and writing was “Demeter’s Grief.” I’d been reading about the harvest, and the mythology attached to them, it fascinated me so I wrote that song. The rest of the songs kind of found me. I know that sounds pretentious but they did. I can’t remember ever sitting down and preparing myself to write them. I’m lucky to live amongst beautiful countryside, and I’m never short of inspiration. “White Hoarhound” was written from random thoughts which came into my head on a Welsh headland at a time when I found out my dad had lung cancer. “White Hoarhound” (normally spelt “horehound”) is actually a root the monks used to treat lung conditions with, and the headland I was standing on was where it was grown. I won’t go into massive detail on the others as I like listeners to attach their own meanings to them. I will say that this year has been a difficult one for my family, and the songs were born from a very sad and thoughtful period — they were my means of escaping into a different world. On a lighter note, I did watch a programme about flamingos and wrote a song about them… unfortunately for everyone, the rest of the band rejected it — that could have been a cracking song hahahaha!
4. Did you actually get to see the Chester Midsummer Watch? I caught some of it on YouTube and it seemed pretty psychedelic in that medieval kind of way — perfect for Alunah. That song seems to be in a tradition of British rock songwriting. Reminds me of a late ‘60s or early ‘70s psych record. Was there something in particular about the parade that inspired it?
I’m actually planning on going to see it next year — they also have a Winter Watch Parade which is smaller but has some of the characters from the Midsummer Watch Parade. The parade didn’t actually inspire the song, I’m not sure what did if I’m honest — we were just jamming and the riff came out of that. The lyrics, like the parade are celebrating the midsummer and I’m definitely interested in England’s medieval and also pagan culture. The song had a different name originally but when I read about the parade I changed the name in tribute. The parade was actually started in the 1100s and was banned for a period as it had dancing naked young boys as part of the parade — inappropriate even back then! It only recently came back to Chester and I think it’s just a beautiful, lively celebration of the Midsummer, complete with giants, jesters, dragons, devils and beasts. Thousands of people visit Chester to watch it, I’m not sure they all understand what it’s about but they all join in with the celebrations and it looks amazing, I can’t wait to visit next year.
5. How long were you in the studio recording? Did you do the album all in one shot or space it out? The tones are very warm and natural in the guitar and bass. Was there something specific about recording for White Hoarhound that you wanted to do differently from Call of Avernus?
We were in the studio recording for just five days, spaced out over weekends. We really wanted to capture the live tones on this record, we were close with Avernus but I think Greg (Chandler – who recorded it) nailed it with Hoarhound. We recorded AND mixed Avernus in four days. This time we spent more time recording and could work with our amps more to get the right sound. The other thing we did differently was to have someone else mix the record, Greg recorded and mixed Avernus, JamesPlotkin mastered it. This time Gregrecorded, and TonyReed mixed and mastered. Like us, Tony thrives on that ‘70s sound, so it was cool to have that meeting of different styles. He brought out the tones superbly, and we were especially pleased with the bass sound — so heavy!
6. You’re playing in November with Gentlemans Pistols and Desert Storm. Any other shows coming up, plans for the New Year you want to mention or closing words?
Yeah that’ll be an awesome gig on the 16th, we’re also in Bradford in November on the 10th with our mates Gods of Hellfire, ArkhamWitch and Arke. We’ve got some big plans for 2013 which are being talked about at the moment — at least one big tour, possibly another and some other cool news which we’re discussing. Hahaha sorry to be so annoyingly vague but until they’re firm plans we don’t want to jinx things. Keep checking www.alunah.co.uk or www.facebook.com/alunah.doom for updates and thanks so much for everyone’s support in 2012.
Posted in Reviews on September 24th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Alunah’s rise has been marked and impressive these last several years. The four-piece hail from Birmingham – a pretty good place to be from if you’re into the heavy – and their latest offering is White Hoarhound. The album is their debut for new label PsycheDOOMelic and their second full-length overall behind 2010’s impressive Call of Avernus debut (review here), a split with Queen Elephantine (review here) in 2009 and 2008’s preceding Fall to Earth EP, and the central difference between it and everything the band has done to this point is a clarity of mindset. With White Hoarhound’s seven tracks/47 minutes, what’s most apparent in listening is that Alunah have a much clearer idea than they’ve ever had before of who and what they are as a band. The guitars of Sophie Day and Dave Day are thick, viscous and forward in the mix alongside Gaz Imber’s bass, and Jake Mason’s drums beat out straightforward motion in line with the riffs. They are rarely showy as a band, but these songs deliver quality heaviness, a few standout choruses, and a solidified aesthetic rooted in pagan-style nature-worshiping lyrics. Sophie’s vocals are a defining element, and where in the past I’ve likened her voice to Lori S., that’s never been less true than it is on White Hoarhound. Some similarities remain, but as Sophie begins to come into her own as a singer, she necessarily leaves that and other such influences behind her. One still gets the sense in listening to their second album that Alunah are continuing to develop as a unit, but there are plenty of instances throughout the sophomore LP that show that potential beginning to pay off, both in terms of songwriting, as on the title-cut, and in terms of performance, as on the harmonized acoustic guitar/organ penultimate track, “Oak Ritual I.” The production of Greg Chandler (who also helmed Call of Avernus) and a mixing/mastering job from the increasingly ubiquitous Tony Reed finds the album moody but crisp, and with a darker atmosphere around them than last time out, the doom in Alunah’s sound has never come across better than it does here.
As on the debut, that doom comes tempered with a fuzz rock mentality that ties these tracks closely to the riffs on which they’re founded. Alunah would hardly be the first band to be driven by the progressions of their guitars, but it sets up a singularity of approach that plays out across much of White Hoarhound. I don’t necessarily think it’s a detriment to the album, however, since the mood is varied along the way and the unit don’t tie themselves to just one structure. That is, not every verse sounds the same, not every riff sounds the same, not every song winds up in the same place. So while it’s the riffs being followed, the destination changes. They touch on psychedelia here and there, as in the very intro of the album on opener “Demeter’s Grief,” but on the whole, it’s a doomier kind of sound than last time out, thicker, with Gaz’s bass right up front playing off Sophie and Dave’s guitars. No complaints there. The grooves are weighted but not drudging, and “Demeter’s Grief” does a solid job in setting up the listener for what’s to come throughout the album, shifting smoothly between a slower verse and more upbeat chorus, catchy and memorable with semi-mystical lyrics that serve as a distinguishing factor throughout the whole of White Hoarhound, including on the title-track, which follows and features the best of the album’s choruses. Sophie layers and backs herself on vocals, and the song’s musical bounce and vocal cadence comes across not unlike that of Mars Red Sky’s “Strong Reflection,” the heft in the guitars and bass once more not weighing the song down in the slightest. Alunah move into an effective start-stop groove in the second half, playing up the swagger for a brief break before cutting to a section of noise and skillfully bringing back the verse with a gong hit and revitalized purpose. Rightly, they end with the chorus, and shift directly into Mason’s drum intro for “Belial’s Fjord,” which at 8:03 is the longest track on the album, closer “Oak Ritual II” having a longer runtime but ending earlier.
Posted in Features on April 7th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
04/07/12 — 23.00 — Saturday — Hotel
Today was the day I decided to have it all. Maybe it was walking up High Street circa noon to hit Music and Video Exchange and buying a ham and cheese crepe for breakfast to go with my cup of coffee. Maybe it was the simple fact that for all the drinking I did yesterday, I wasn’t hungover in the slightest. Maybe it was just the entire galaxy of good music playing out the middle day of this fest. Whatever it was, I was on board today. All the way. Let’s go.
And go I did — or, I guess I went. Whatever. The schedule was packed today. Really. From the time I rolled into The Black Heart to the time I left The Black Heart — digging a certain symmetry in starting and ending each day at Desertfest‘s smallest venue, definitely — it was basically nonstop. Whereas yesterday I got to basically park myself at The Purple Turtle, at the expense of seeing Ancestors, but still, there was none of that happening this afternoon and evening. As the day wore on, in fact, it only got busier.
My major question was how the hell I was going to see everything I wanted to see. Orange Goblin, Black Pyramid, and Grifter all went on in 25-minute succession of each other, in that order. All three bands — and after a full day of rock. It wasn’t going to be easy.
As far as starts to the day go, however, I couldn’t have asked for something more mellow than an acoustic set from Deville. Frontman Andreas Bengtsson took the stage on his own, just him and a guitar. He was plugged in — Desertfest: “Where Even the Acoustic Guitars Run through Orange Stacks” — and he ran through a charming set of reworked Deville tracks, including “Lava,” which I recalled from their recently posted video for the song. Roadsaw frontman Craig Riggs and I would have an interesting conversation later about how much videos matter again now, but watching Bengtsson perform, there was clearly more to his songwriting than a funny video could convey. I don’t know the name of the last song he played, but it was a classic Kyuss riff, and hearing it through an acoustic was like finding a copy of Paranoid in a museum. Read: just right.
There was a 40-minute break between Bengtsson and the next band at The Black Heart, which was Steak, so I made use of the time and went across the street to The Underworld to check out some of Shrine ’69‘s set. They were young, but heavy, and no one told me, but apparently giant embroidered v-necks are the new t-shirt and jeans. Fair enough. I was more into the UK natives than I thought I’d be just going by their name, and I picked up their CD to give it a listen later on, figuring no time like the present, and contrary to what I told the French lady who sold me my breakfast, it’s not every weekend I’m in London. Shrine ’69‘s crowd knew them better than I did, and I was glad to default to the judgment of the masses on this one. Helped, I suppose, that I agreed with them. Another quality UK band to add to the seemingly endless list.
Also local, Steak drew a large crowd back at The Black Heart. I had bought their EP yesterday without knowing who they were, and only later found out that the band includes Dan and Reece from DesertScene, who organized the fest. They were solid heavy rock, self-aware stoner, and they proved yet again one of the things I’ve always most enjoyed about this kind of music — the people who are into it, do it. Seeing these dudes made me wish I didn’t live in the asshole of the world, considering the raw passion for what they do and the time and effort they were willing to put into putting Desertfest together across three venues in busy Camden Town, 50-plus bands over three nights. They’ve made it really easy for someone outside of this geographic scene (like I am, despite having people in it I consider friends), to be jealous of it, and they rocked besides. Can’t ask for more than that.
I’d seen the Roadsaw dudes around, shot the shit for a while with drummer Jeremy Hemond, bassist (and Obelisk columnist) Tim Catz, the aforementioned Mr. Riggs and guitarist Ian Ross, and I was looking forward to their set at The Underworld. Not because I’ve never seen them before, but because I knew this was a special show. It was special for me just being here, so I figured being that dudes from basically the same region I’m from (at least relative to London), who flew out just for this show and then were set to fly back home, they’d be really into it, and Roadsaw did not disappoint. Awesome to look by the side of the stage and see the Orange Goblin guys showing respect, and awesome to see Roadsaw throw down. They played a couple tracks off their Desertfest EP, which they were also giving away on CD free of charge — I took two — and “Thinking of Me” and “Long in the Tooth” off the self-titled (review here) were highlights. I’ll have to see if they’re playing at all in Boston come June or July, because as I stood and watched them tear through these songs, it occurred to me that I’ve never seen them on their home turf, and that’s something I should probably get on remedying. They did New England proud.
Sungrazer was on next, so I stayed put at The Underworld. This was my second time seeing the Dutch natives, who were a highlight of Roadburn last year and who I really consider to be the future of fuzz. Sander Haagmans‘ Rickenbacker rules all. If Sander Haagmans‘ Rickenbacker was running for US president as a republican, I would go against my beliefs and vote for it, because it’s just that awesome. But you know what? Sander Haagmans‘ Rickenbacker wouldn’t run as a republican, because it’s warm and inviting and progressive and doesn’t give a shit if gay people want to get married. It’s fucking great, is what I’m trying to say. His and guitarist Rutger Smeets‘ tones were dead on. They opened with “If” from their 2010 self-titled (review here) and went directly from there into “Octo” from last year’s fabulous Mirador (review here), but what I was really hoping for came later, with the new song “Dopo.” When I saw them last, they played a couple Mirador tracks, and with the acknowledgement that one live listen is no real basis for judgment, I’ll say it seems like they’re going even further into their meandering heavy psych, leaving behind some of the Colour Haze-type influence and doing more of their own thing. Maybe that’s me reading into it, but that was the impression I got, anyway, and it made me excited to hear what they do on their next record. They finished with the Fu Manchu-worthy fuzz of “Common Believer,” which of all the songs I heard today from all the bands I saw, is the one still stuck in my head.
There was a little time before Alunah were set to go on at The Black Heart, but I made my way over there early to get a spot up front. Grabbed a beer and bought a copy of Alunah‘s Call of Avernus before they took the stage, which they did following some technical difficulties with bassist Gaz Imber‘s amp. The troubles were short-lived, though, which I suppose is one of the benefits of having your fest sponsored by Orange — an awesome-sounding replacement for whatever’s broken is never far off. They were cool, unpretentious riffy doom. Vocalist/guitarist Soph Day had the crowd eating out of her hand, and the whole band seemed right at home both with the audience and in the venue. I’m still reminded of Acid King by Day‘s echoing vocals, but that’s hardly a complaint in my mind. Their next record, which will be their first for PsycheDOOMelic — apparently titled White Hoarhound — is one to look forward to. Like Grifter who would play later, Alunah seem to be coming of age as a band and it was exciting to watch. Valient Thorr was on at The Underworld, and I heard later they were great, but seeing Alunah play under their psychedelic lighting effects, I felt like I was right where I needed to be.
This is where things got really tricky. I’d worked out the rest of the evening so that the order of bands was going to be as follows:
Truckfighters at The Underworld (18.30-19.15) Dopefight at The Purple Turtle (19.15-19.45) Church of Misery at The Underworld (19.45-20.30) Orange Goblin at The Underworld (21.00-22.15) Black Pyramid at The Purple Turtle (21.25-22.25)
and Grifter at The Black Heart (21.50-22.50)
I wouldn’t get to see Serpent Venom or Slabdragger, but this way I felt like I was maximizing the amount of bands I’d see, catching the headliners where last night I didn’t, and still getting back to the hotel in decent time to write about this massive fucking day. Obviously I didn’t see everyone’s set front-to-back, and there was one point where I left The Underworld after Church of Misery thinking Black Pyramid was going on immediately only to find I wasn’t that far into the schedule yet, but basically this plan worked, which I guess is why I felt so victorious as I started this review.
Though I guess it would be hard not to be stoked on any night watching Truckfighters. Yes, it was my third Truckfighters show in a month’s time (see here and here), but as soon as Dango started up the “Desert Cruiser” riff, The Underworld went off. Heads were banged, fists were pumped, fuzz was thick, and where they had been relatively subdued in Manhattan, the Swedish trio pulled no punches for Desertfest. It was intense, heavy desert rock. They followed “Desert Cruiser” with “Monte Gargano,” and at that point, there was no turning back. Oskar “Ozo” Cedermalm showed no wear for the set he did last night fronting Greenleaf at The Purple Turtle, and as ever, their energy was infectious and they brought the crowd along with them via killer grooves and some of the finest stoner riffing to be found the world over. Desertfest was perfect for them and they were perfect for Desertfest.
It killed me to leave, but Dopefight awaited. The British trio were one of the native bands I was most excited to see (seems like I say that for every native band, but it’s true), especially after their debut, Buds, found such favor late in 2010. Knowing their modus of “slow riffs first, then punk out with vocals,” I assumed it would take them a little while to get going, and it did. They played an instrumental intro before unleashing a few cuts off Buds and a new song from their upcoming split with Gurt. Good times were had. Much like Alunah and Steak earlier in the day, the crowd knew Dopefight and had pretty clearly seen them before. I hadn’t, and they killed. “Specimen” and “Nob. Nod. Noi.” made sure I didn’t go anywhere for the duration of their time on stage, though I’ll admit to getting a Newcastle and moving to the back of The Purple Turtle, as the day was beginning to wear on me. Nonetheless, Dopefight were every bit worth sticking through. I hope this isn’t the last time I see them.
Rumors were around that Japan’s Church of Misery had a new singer and guitarist, the latter coming on as a replacement for Tom Sutton, but lo, when I got back to The Underworld for the start of their set, there was Sutton himself. They did have a new vocalist since the last time I caught them, but as ever, Church of Misery delivered, Tatsu Mikami wearing his bass characteristically low-slung as he stood on the stage monitors. I don’t know who the new singer was — or, come to think of it, if it wasn’t in fact Hideki Fukasawa. He had the noisemakers going and the songs they played off 2009′s Houses of the Unholy (review here) sounded right on, but the stage presence was different, less manic and frantic. Less fake-shotgunning the crowd. It didn’t matter to the crowd, who were dead into it from the outset. It seemed like they didn’t play long, but I guess it just went quick. Either way, they’re touring Europe this month, playing Roadburn next week, and then heading to the States for a cross-country run that includes a stop at Maryland Deathfest at the end of May. Whoever’s in the band, they seemed ready.
Hometown heroes, Orange Goblin made for an especially cool headliner for the first Desertfest Saturday night because in no small way they’re responsible for influencing the current British scene. From Grifter, with whom they’re touring, to the likes of Desert Storm who play tomorrow, Orange Goblin — on the road supporting this year’s excellent A Eulogy for the Damned (review here) — are the statesmen of this scene, and though they’re as raucous as ever, they play the role well. The setlist was amazing. “The Fog” and “Stand for Something” off the new one, plus “Scorpionica” for an opener, “Some You Win, Some You Lose” and a rendition of the anthemic “The Filthy and the Few” that they brought out Craig Riggs from Roadsaw to join Ben Ward on vocals. I know it hasn’t been that long since they were last on my home shores, but I really hope Orange Goblin get to do a US tour for this album. The songs are so tight and crisp, but still rougher live than they are on the record. I’d love another shot at checking them out. You’ll note the headline for this post comes from “The Ballad of Solomon Eagle.” No coincidence there. Orange Goblin were a high point of the weekend.
In fact, I probably stayed at The Underworld longer than I should have, because by the time I got back down the road to The Purple Turtle — a 10-minute walk, basically — Black Pyramid was already well into “Mercy’s Bane” and the room was full. I’d heard a lot of people say they specifically wanted to see them, and I guess since the whole of Desertfest was running a little early, I just mistimed it. I stayed for a little while and grooved out for a couple minutes, and was glad for their success here as I was last year seeing a different incarnation of the band kill it at Roadburn, but soon enough I was back out the door and on my way north (was it north? Felt like north, but it was uphill, and I’m no judge, so take that for what it’s worth) to round out the night at The Black Heart, not before buying a copy of Serpent Venom‘s Carnal Altar album from their merch table in its awesome weirdo packaging. My camera bag was starting to weigh down my shoulder from the heft of the day’s acquisitions, but if the worst that comes of it is my arm falling off, I can’t really say I lost out.
Though by the time Grifter were getting ready to roll, I was tired and I could feel myself being tired. For a soundcheck, the three-piece jammed out a bouncy, low-key riff — it reminded me of something Asteroid might have extended for another six or seven minutes the night before in the same room — and inadvertently hooked the crowd, so that when they stopped, the room erupted in cheers. It was awesome, though kind of a bummer they didn’t just pick up from there and keep going. There were still a couple minutes before their set actually began, but when it did, it was worth the wait. Like last year’s Ripple Music self-titled full-length (review here), the live show showed them as a no bullshit heavy classic rock band. They played a couple older songs off their first EPs, which were well received, and were a cool way to finish up the night. I think a lot of people had gone off to the pub or decided to call it quits on the evening, but those who stayed for Grifter were definitely rewarded for the effort. I did, anyhow. Their set was like the destination I’d been running to all day, and I suppose it was. I’ll be honest: I didn’t make it through the whole thing, with time wearing on and knowing this was going to be the giant slab of probably typo-laden copy it has turned into. As as been the case many times so far this weekend, though, I was glad I saw what I did.
Tomorrow’s Easter — Happy Easter, if that’s your thing — and I think the whole town has the day off, but Desertfest rolls on. It’s the last day, and way more relaxed than was today (no doubt in my mind that was a purposeful move on the part of the DesertScene crew), but I’m still looking forward to seeing the likes of Wiht‘s last show ever, Leaf Hound and Samsara Blues Experiment, so as soon as I can, I’m going to crash out. It’ll probably be another hour or two of putting together the photos for this post [NOTE: No such luck. Post went up at 04.58), but whatever. I got takeout Indian food for dinner and am feeling strong as a result. Days like today, if they happen once, you’re lucky. I’m exhausted, and sore, and I don’t know if I’d call myself “lucky” — something about doing so just makes me think a piano will immediately fall out of the sky and land on my head — but “fortunate” definitely applies.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 16th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Feels like three days ago after that Monster Magnet review, but you might recall earlier this afternoon when I put up that Dopefight video I rattled off a list of badass British bands. Well, I left off Alunah from that list, not because they don’t rule, but because I wanted to take a second to single out the four-piece and say congratulations on signing a deal with the Big Bad Mother’s House booking agency. Hopefully this means Alunah will hit the road prior to the release (and after too, I suppose) of their next album, but until then, I’m looking forward to their set at the Desertfest in London.
We’re very pleased to announce that this week we have signed with Bristol-based Big Bad Mother’s House music talent booking agency.
The agency is home to Riotgod (MonsterMagnet members BobPantella and Jim Baglino), the Argentinian sludge rockers Banda de la Muerte, Venezualan heavy lords Cultura Tres and many more.
Alunah will be playing the International Powerhouse of Doom Festival on April 5 at Scruffy Murphys, Birmingham, with both Banda de la Muerte and Cultura Tres. Other bands on the bill include Stone Axe, Stubb and Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight.
Both Alunah and Cultura Tres will also be hitting DesertFest in April.
Got in from the Truckfighters show a little before 3AM last night, so rather than even open the laptop to post something, I just went to bed. I’ll have a full review of that show come Monday, but yeah, it was something else. The tour dates are here; if they’re coming by you, you should go. Especially if Valley of the Sun are on the bill too. I imagine the two of them together makes for some pretty formidable fuzz.
Coming off that gig last night, I wanted to cap this week with something thickly toned, next-gen and mightily grooved, and UK outfit Alunah seemed just right. Alunah will release their next album through PsycheDOOMelic in 2012, but “Call of Avernus” is the title cut from their 2010 full-length. Good band, good song. Hope you dig it.
Next week, The Patient Mrs. and I are headed west to Detroit to loaf around and see what’s what. I kind of put in the June numbers post that we were thinking about moving, and it’s not entirely untrue, but it’s more of a backup plan than anything else. Either way, we leave Wednesday night, and I don’t know what that does for posting after that, but if I have time to get anything up, I will. I’ll be seeing Clutch in Flint while we’re out there, so hopefully I’ll be able to do something on that.
I also want to get that YOB interview posted before I split, so hopefully that’ll be Wednesday. That, reviews of Admiral Browning and the aforementioned Valley of the Sun, and a look at Eagle‘s new Deep Purple reissues are all forthcoming, so there’s much to stay tuned for. I’m also headed down to see YOB and Dark Castle at Kung Fu Necktie in Philly tonight, and I don’t think I’ll give the show another full review, but I’ll have my camera on me, and maybe able to post some pictures if I come out with any decent ones. Kind of a crap shoot, as far as that goes.
If you’re going to that, or to Clamfight and Rukut afterwards at JR’s Bar, or if you’re not, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I’ll see you on the forum and back here Monday.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 16th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Congratulations and heartfelt best wishes to riffy UK doomers Alunah, who sent a message on the Books of Face to spread the word that they’ve signed not one, but two record deals in the last week. Honestly, one label probably would have been enough to earn them a “way to go and all the best,” but two! Well, that’s nothing short of “good job, you”-worthy. So, yeah, good job, you.
Follow the riff. Love the riff:
It has been announced that Birmingham based Alunah have signed a deal with PsycheDOOMelic Records; an Austrian label dedicated to doom metal who have worked with such notable bands as Ramesses, Pale Divine, Penance, Orodruin, Voodoo Shock and Wall of Sleep etc. In the same week the band also signed a re-release deal with Seattle based Doom Metal Alliance Records.
Alunah , who formed in 2006, have become known for their relentless gig and touring activity off the back of their Fall to Earth EP (Nasoni Records, Germany) and debut album Call of Avernus (Catacomb Records, UK). The band will release their second album in 2012 through their new deal with PsycheDOOMelic Records, and will re-release Call of Avernus on vinyl later in 2011 with Doom Metal Alliance Records. Alunah will be touring in August 2011 with sludge legends Sally (ex-Rise Above Records, Mistress, Penance) and doom metallers Lifer (ex-Acrimony, Black Eyed Riot).
Posted in Reviews on December 3rd, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Last heard from on their 2009 Catacomb Records split with avant doomers Queen Elephantine, the UK stoner doom outfit Alunah now follow with their first full-length, Call of Avernus. Also released through Catacomb, Call of Avernus follows a 2007 demo and the 2008 Fall to Earth EP and features almost exclusively new material from the double-guitar four-piece, centered much around the riffs and vocals of frontwoman Sophie, who finds herself in the forward position across the nine tracks and respectable 49-minute runtime. Alunah, who formed in 2006 and added the ‘h’ to the end of their name sometime thereafter, straddle the line between the heavier end of stoner rock and more doomed atmospheres. Sophie and fellow guitarist Dave create a wall of impenetrable fuzz like Fu Manchu did in their unabashed heyday, but the building those walls construct is different and far less laden with California sunshine and a friendly surf mentality.
Although it feels like a superficial comparison to make, I’d be remiss if I didn’t liken Alunah to the classic work of Acid King, who walked a likeminded line stylistically and with whose vocalist, Lori S., Sophie shares more than a passing similarity in tone and cadence. Highly reverbed laid back female stoner vocals; it’s not an influence I begrudge Sophie or Alunah, and if anything I think it works mostly in the band’s favor throughout Call of Avernus – most especially on centerpiece cut “Eternal Sea” – but it had to be said. The main riff of that song reminds of the bassline in “Southern” from Alunah’s UK countrymen Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight (whether or not the two bands know each other, I have no idea), but I expect that’s more coincidence than anything else. If from all this you’re getting the impression Alunah aren’t exactly original, you’re right, but more importantly, if you listen to Call of Avernus — in either the opener “Living Fast in an Ancient Land,” which starts out with a doomy bass rumble from Gaz (I’m convinced no UK stoner band is complete without a dude named Gaz) before Sophie and Dave join in, or the mid-paced Sabbath groove of the title track – and you try to think of bands who are proffering this kind of unabashed stoner riffage these days, it’s going to be a short list.
Posted in Reviews on January 27th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
In and out in a little over 12 minutes, this split 7” between British rockers Alunah (whose ending ‘h’ seems a recent addition) and multi-continental experimental droners Queen Elephantine is a quick trip, but a satisfying one nonetheless. Limited to 250 copies and issued through Catacomb Records, each side of the vinyl features one song just past six minutes long and though the two bands work in different atmospheres, there’s a far-off echo that permeates both pieces and builds cohesiveness between the styles.
With “Song of the Sun,” Alunah offer comparatively straightforward riff-based heavy rock, set apart from the pack by the lead vocals of Sophie (no last name given), for whom Acid King comparisons can’t possibly be anything new. Nonetheless, the band spend their time wisely, fading out and back in at the end for an additional few seconds of riffing and lead lines. The four piece aren’t really breaking any new ground for stoner rock, but neither are they offensive. They’re recording a new full-length this year, and I’d be interested to check it out, so if the idea of “Song of the Sun” was to get people interested in the band by giving them a small taste, then it worked.
Whether they’re hailing on any given day from New York, Providence, RI, or Hong Kong, the prolific Queen Elephantine always seem up for a little mind expansion. Somewhat ironic is that by keeping their contribution, “Mephistopheles,” to around six minutes, they’re actually more reigned in than usual. I get the feeling there’s a half-hour version of this song out there somewhere. As it stands on the split, though, the band, led by Indy Shome continue their progressive journey through deconstructed psychedelia. In contrast to Alunah, Queen Elephantine care little for structure and ride their song out to wherever it takes them. In the context of an LP, this can be challenging, but here they keep it relatively on track, which makes for a fascinating balance.
For Alunah, this is their second release following the Fall to Earth EP (also on Catacomb), and Queen Elephantine seem to have a new split or online-only release every few months, so it’s a fair bet we’ll be hearing more from both bands. Going by the tracks included on this 7”, that’s just fine, since they each have something of their own to offer but don’t stray so far from the other as to make for incongruous listening.