The Obelisk Presents: Alunah Spring 2018 Tour

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on February 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

alunah europe 2018 poster

I am a firm believer in Midlands, UK, naturalist doom rockers Alunah, who in 2018 find themselves engaged in perhaps the most difficult work they’ve done to-date. Their task is to find out who they are as a band without guitarist/vocalist Sophie Day at the forefront. After four strong full-lengths with the group — the latest of which, Solennial (review here), came out last year as their debut on SvartSophie announced she was leaving the band, and as her forest-worship lyrics provided so much of the band’s distinctive aesthetic, as guitarist Dave Day, bassist Daniel Burchmore and drummer Jake Mason move forward, the question remains what Alunah will be without that pivotal element.

While I don’t think we’ll really know for at least another album or two — in other words, not for years — Alunah have begun to play shows with new vocalist Siân Greenaway, and today I’m proud to announce that The Obelisk is among the sponsors for their upcoming May tour, which will obviously be the first with Greenaway at the mic. Ostensibly the band is still supporting Solennial, which, by the by, was fantastic, but more than that, they’re beginning the exploration of who they are in this new era and who they’re going to be going forward from here. As a fan of the band and the work they’ve done over the course of the last decade, I’m thrilled to be one of the sponsors for the tour and I will watch with great interest (also great distance) as they take to the Germany, France, and Belgium in May.

Alunah are also booked for Doom Over Vienna in Austria this November, and I imagine they’ll be keeping plenty busy in the interim over the summer, so stay tuned for more. In the meantime, here are the dates coming up, and presented with thanks to the band for having this site on board in this way:

alunah

After the first initial UK shows with our new line-up Alunah are very excited to confirm the following upcoming European run for 2018. We look forward to seeing old friends, and to also break new ground with festivals and venues we haven’t played before.

28th April UK Brighton “Green Door Store”
2nd May UK London “Nightclub Kolis/The Lounge”
3rd May Belgium Antwerp “Music City”
4th May Germany Oldenburg “MTS Records”
5th May Denmark Copenhagen “Northern Discomfort” Festival
7th May Germany Jena “Kulturbahnof”
8th May Germany Dresden “Chemiefabrik”
9th May Germany Stuttgart “Keller Klub”
10th May Germany Aachen “Musikbunker”
11th May France Paris “Fuzzy Sounds” Festival
12th May France Lille “Le Biplan”
18th May UK Coventry “The Phoenix”
19th May UK Bristol “The Old England”
10th Nov Aus “Doom over Vienna” Festival

Alunah is:
Siân Greenaway – Vocals
David Day – 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
http://www.svartrecords.com

Alunah, “White Hoarhound” live at the Portland Arms, Cambridge

Alunah, Solennial (2017)

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Alunah Welcome New Vocalist Siân Greenaway; Live Debut this Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Just about five weeks after it was announced that founding guitarist/vocalist Sophie Day was leaving Birmingham, UK, doomers Alunah and that the band would continue on in her absence with her husband, guitarist David Day and drummer Jake Mason as the remaining original members, the four-piece have confirmed adding Siân Greenaway as their new singer. Greenaway, whose CV includes handling guitar/vocals in the more uptempo Bear Legs and other groups, steps into Alunah after the release of their fourth and arguably broadest ranging album, Solennial (review here), was released earlier in 2017 as their first offering through Svart Records.

As Sophie Day‘s nature-themed lyrics were a big part of Alunah‘s forest doom aesthetic both on that record and in the past, a huge question that remains to be answered is what Greenaway will bring to the band in that regard. It seems like we might have a while before we find out. The band will make their live debut on Nov. 27 in Birmingham, supporting Royal Thunder, and look to tour in 2018 while also working to solidify new material over that time. It doesn’t seem like they’re rushing to get back in the studio, but then, they did just put a record out, so one wouldn’t necessarily expect them to anyhow.

More when I hear it, I guess, but until then, best of luck to Alunah, Greenaway included, as they head into this new era. Here’s a press release I wrote for the band to make it official:

alunah

Alunah Announce New Vocalist Siân Greenaway & Live Debut

Midlands, UK, doom rockers Alunah have announced the addition of vocalist Siân Greenaway to their lineup. The new incarnation of the four-piece will make their live debut on 27 November at Mama Roux’s in their native Birmingham, supporting Royal Thunder.

Tickets for that show can be purchased here: https://www.seetickets.com/event/royal-thunder/mama-roux-s/1147450

Greenaway joins Alunah after the stunning departure in September of founding vocalist/guitarist Sophie Day, who fronted the band across four full-length releases, the latest of which, Solennial, was issued earlier this year on Svart Records. In conjunction with Day’s leaving, Alunah vowed to press on, and with the arrival of Greenaway, they will look to tour in 2018 and begin writing material for their next album.

“I’m honoured to be part of Alunah,” enthuses Greenaway. “I look forward to being part of the future of the band and am excited to take it forward.”

Bassist Dan Burchmore echoed the sentiment: “We were instantly impressed with Siân’s vocal ability, passion and commitment. We feel she will be a welcome addition to the band and we can’t wait to see what 2018 holds.”

Tour dates for 2018 are forthcoming. Booking enquiries can be sent to booking@alunah.co.uk.

Alunah is:
Siân Greenaway – Vocals
David Day – 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
http://www.svartrecords.com

Alunah, Solennial (2017)

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Sophie Day Announces Departure from Alunah

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Bummer news out of the UK for fans of heavy forest rockers Alunah, and make no mistake, I consider myself to be one. Guitarist/vocalist Sophie Day has decided after 11 years to leave the band she and husband/fellow guitarist Dave Day started in 2006. Her stepping down from the frontwoman role leaves a significant void in Alunah, as she was also responsible for the lyrics and thereby the naturalist thematic that has become so much a part of Alunah‘s sound over the course of their four albums — the latest of which, Solennial (review here), came out as their first for Svart Records earlier this year — but the band has decided to continue on and search for a replacement with whom they’ll look to move forward on a fifth full-length.

Sophie‘s last shows with Alunah were this past July with Acid King, which seems fitting in terms of the influence that band had particularly on Alunah‘s earlier offerings. In a brief statement, Sophie says she has other avenues she’s interested in exploring, and in addition to general intrigue as to what shape Alunah might take in her absence, I know I for one would be interested to hear how she would/hopefully will manifest songwriting in the future. Maybe she’ll go acid folk. That would rule. She could pull it off, not a doubt in my mind. Songs of the wood and whatnot.

In case you’d like to rock some Alunah in her honor, all four of their albums can be streamed at the bottom of this post.

Best of luck of course to Sophie Day and to the band, who made the announcement thusly on their website:

alunah

Singer/Guitarist Sophie Day Leaves Alunah

25/9/2017

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the departure of our singer and guitarist Sophie Day; our gigs back in July with Acid King were particularly poignant, due to that fact that they were Soph’s final gigs with us.

As a founding member, Soph has been with Alunah since our inception in 2006, and she has been an integral part in forging Alunah into what it has become today. The remaining members of Alunah wish to continue, and invite applications to be sent to info@alunah.co.uk. Please only apply if you are serious and willing to commit.

Of her decision Soph said, “When we started Alunah I never realised how huge a part of my life it would become, how many wonderful people I would meet and establish lasting relationships with, how much music we would write and release, how much support we would get from labels and press, how many countries we would visit and how many of our favourite bands we would share the stage with. It has been my comfort blanket through personal trauma and have been moved when told how much our music has affected some of you guys. It has been amazing.

“However, there are other avenues I want to explore, both musically and in my personal life, and I can no longer give my all to Alunah, nor would it be fair to try and force Alunah in the direction I would like to go in. I continue to support the guys with design and marketing and of course through Dave’s and my label Catacomb Records, who have just co-released ‘White Hoarhound’ with HeviSike Records. I wish Dave, Jake, Dan and my replacement(s) the best of luck for the future, and I thank every single one of you for your support over the years. It’s been a trip.”

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

Alunah, Solennial (2017)

Alunah, Awakening the Forest (2014)

Alunah, White Hoarhound (2012)

Alunah, Call of Avernus (2010)

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Review & Track Premiere: Alunah, Solennial

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

alunah solennial

[Click play above to hear the premiere of ‘A Forest’ from Alunah’s Solennial. Album is out March 17 on Svart Records.]

Visions of countryside rituals, changing seasons, old growth forests and the quiet, wistful contemplations that these ideas can inspire are nothing new atmospherically for Midlands four-piece Alunah, who from their earliest goings have had a strong sense of aesthetic mindfulness and set about developing it. 2017 marks a decade since their first demo, Crystal Voyage, and what they’ve accomplished in the last 10 years is considerable, from their nascent Fall to Earth EP in 2008 and 2009’s split with Queen Elephantine (review here) up through Solennial, their fourth album, which aligns them with respected purveyor Svart Records and brings forth their most complex and deepest-running work yet.

One can trace a clear line of progression on Alunah‘s albums, across 2010’s Call of Avernus (review here), 2012’s White Hoarhound (review here) and 2014’s Awakening the Forest (review here), but the eight tracks/43 minutes of Solennial celebrate a particular moment of arrival for them. Working alongside much-lauded producer and Conan bassist/vocalist Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio, Alunah — guitarist/vocalist Sophie Day, guitarist Dave Day, bassist Daniel Burchmore and drummer Jake Mason — bring more of an ambient sensibility to their output than ever before, and while Fielding is known for his own crushing tones and those he’s able to bring out of others in the studio, and Solennial is plenty heavy in its raw sound, it’s the spaces that Alunah create and fill that allow these songs to come to life in the vivid, colorful way they do.

To wit, the layers of guitar in subdued intro “The Dying Soil” arrive both far forward and far back, and the room between them comes populated by foreboding string sounds. It’s more than a minute before Mason‘s drums enter with thudding toms behind Sophie‘s vocals, calm and descriptive, and the tension the band creates in that moment isn’t unlike what SubRosa brought to “Despair is a Siren” last year, but as “The Dying Soil” ends with a single snare hit snapping the listener to attention, they of course take their own path into the woods. Those curious, as I was, to hear what kinds of tones Alunah would get out of recording at Skyhammer receive an answer in about the first six seconds of “Light of Winter,” which begins with guitar alone proffering a rich, full and churning fuzz, warm and engrossing. It becomes a defining element of Solennial and lends the band a foundation from which to wonder as they will and do.

“Light of Winter” itself is more straightforward in its rolling groove, though Burchmore adds intriguing fills on bass as he’ll do even more righteously in the subsequent “Feast of Torches,” and as songwriting has always been a strength for Alunah, it’s little surprise that “Light of Winter” begins a succession of memorable cuts running through the rest of side A and beyond. And to Solennial‘s credit, it stays informed by the quiet beginning it goes on from “The Dying Soil,” which seems to find an echo at the start of “Feast of Torches.” Though the latter moves into its nod patiently, that only seems to make it more comfortable once it gets there, and the hook is marked out by the addition of male backing vocals behind Sophie, which will come even more to prominence later on the penultimate “Lugh’s Assembly” and bring a gothic flair to the catchiness in the meantime. “Feast of Torches” explores heavy-psych lead work briefly but ends on its chorus and gives way to the ultra-heavy thud and rumble of “The Reckoning of Time,” which clears to let the first verse take hold over guitar and empty space, gradually brought to a movement of airy tones, layered voice and mid-paced toms that kicks into later-Iommi-style riffing.

It’s ultimately with “Feast of Torches” and “The Reckoning of Time” that the narrative of Solennial seems to really let itself be felt. As Alunah shift into “Fire of Thornborough Henge,” “Petrichor,” “Lugh’s Assembly” and the closing The Cure cover, “A Forest,” the lyrics seem to tie together ideas across tracks, and indeed across albums, as Awakening the Forest is alluded to several times, first in “Fire of Thornborough Henge” and then again in “Petrichor” directly. The final two cuts mention forests as well — you might say it’s the title of the last song, which is the first recorded cover Alunah have done — in a more general way, seemingly as a metaphor for confusion, grief, and the seeking of resolution. This would also tie Solennial to its predecessor, but if Alunah needed to distinguish their fourth outing from their third, they do so both in the execution of this conceptual focus and in the performances within the tracks themselves, whether it’s Burchmore‘s bass, which continues to shine, or Sophie‘s vocals, which show greater range throughout but make a particular highlight of “Fire of Thornborough Henge” and carry “Petrichor” through the bulk of its brooding run — string sounds returning deep in the mix along with plotted lead lines of weeping guitar — until the build playing out subtly behind her reaches its apex in greater force of guitar, bass and drums.

Further, Alunah grow more brazen in toying with structure on “Lugh’s Assembly,” the longest inclusion at 7:52. It essentially breaks in half just about four minutes in, departing its initial verse and chorus in favor of a quieter, progressive flow. The drift is held together first by Sophie‘s vocals and then by a fuzzy guitar solo, and “Lugh’s Assembly” rounds out with the reintroduction of those backing vocals for a few lines, again, goth in their impression. They’re quickly arrived and gone — it really is just a few lines — but a new dynamic for Alunah and a point of potential future growth. As Mason‘s drums pick up to start “A Forest,” joined soon by guitar and bass, the atmosphere remains affected by the track prior, though the intro has little in the end to do with the plodding that emerges in the finale at about a minute into the total six-plus.

One can strain to hear some Electric Wizard brought to the closer at points, but again, this is folded into Alunah‘s overarching intent, which has become all the more individual over time and reaches new heights in that regard on Solennial as well. Ending with a momentary push-into-slowdown that brings the strings back up to close along with the last crashes, “A Forest” even as an adopted song underscores the boldness of the four-piece’s forward movement here, instrumentally, vocally, in arrangement, craft and production. Now past their first 10 years, Alunah have yet to conjure an offering that did not build off what they’ve done in the past while introducing new aspects to their sound, and though they’ve never been prone to drastic shifts — that is, one can feel reasonably certain in putting on “The Reckoning of Time” that they’re not about to start playing grindcore for no reason in the middle of it — they’ve only become steadier in their approach. Solennial basks in a solar ritualizing true to its etymology, but moreover, it carries a feeling of mastery behind its creation that stands in henge-like testament to Alunah‘s hard-won maturity as a band. By no means to they seem like they are finished growing, but then, a forest never is.

Alunah on Thee Facebooks

Alunah webstore

Svart Records website

Svart Records on Thee Facebooks

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Alunah Post “Fire of Thornborough Henge” Video; Solennial Preorders Available

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

alunah

Since the better part of a year ago, when it was first announced that woods-worshiping UK four-piece Alunah had signed to Svart Records for the release of their next album, I’ve been dying to hear how their tones — so gracious and consuming as they’ve become, most recently demonstrated on 2014’s Awakening the Forest (review here) — would sound as captured by producer Chris Fielding, bassist of Conan and engineer at Skyhammer Studio. We get a first sampling in Alunah‘s new video for “Fire of Thornborough Henge,” and it’s been worth the wait. The fuzz is maintained, the clarity refined, and as guitarist/vocalist Soph Day enters into layers of self-harmony, she seems to do so with a greater spaciousness around her than ever before.

It seems to be a habit of mine that whether or not Alunah actually have an album coming out that year, they make the list of most anticipated records. Well, Solennial will be out on March 17 via the aforementioned Svart, and preorders are up now, so this thing is definitely happening. I can only encourage you to dig in as Soph, fellow guitarist Dave Day, bassist Daniel Burchmore and drummer Jake Mason unfurl an initial taste of Alunah‘s fourth full-length, holding fast to crucial elements of their sound — even going so far as to reference Awakening the Forest in the lyrics — but showcasing immediate expansion as well in sound and approach. Holy crap I’m looking forward to this record. More than I already was.

Info and links follow the clip. Check it out and enjoy:

Alunah, “Fire of Thornborough Henge” official video

ALUNAH – FIRE OF THORNBOROUGH HENGE VIDEO AND SOLENNIAL PRE-ORDER

We have a double surprise for you. Today we would like to share our music video for ‘Fire of Thornborough Henge’ and also to inform you that pre-orders are now available for our upcoming album Solennial!

Solennial will be released on 17th March via Svart Records and pre-orders will be available up until 28th February. The first 100 orders from the Alunah store will receive a limited edition embroidered patch, and you can choose from limited edition bone white vinyl, black vinyl or digipak CD: http://www.official-alunah-store.co.uk/

We are playing the following UK dates in support of “Solennial.” A European tour to follow is currently being worked on.

Alunah live:
Friday 31st March: The Chameleon, Nottingham
Saturday 1st April: The Moon Club, Cardiff
Thursday 6th April: The Flapper, Birmingham
Friday 7th April: Bannermans, Edinburgh
Saturday 8th April: Rebellion, Manchester
Sunday 9th April: The Lounge, London

Here’s the video. Enjoy, friends.

Alunah on Thee Facebooks

Alunah webstore

Svart Records website

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Alunah Announce Spring 2017 UK Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 15th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

The challenge is not can I tell you how much I’m looking forward to the arrival of Alunah‘s fourth album, Solennial, but can I do it without gushing? Probably not. But you’ll have to indulge me. The UK four-piece have yet to put out a record that hasn’t stepped forward from its predecessors, and considering how far they took their sound with 2014’s Awakening the Forest (review here), that sets a pretty lofty marker for the new one. To meet it, the band has teamed up with producer Chris Fielding (Conan) at Skyhammer Studio, who has proven himself multiple times over a master at capturing tonal richness, and I frankly can’t wait to hear the results of that partnership.

There. Not too much gushing. Bottom line is I think the record’s gonna be awesome and I’m dying to hear it.

Alunah recently canceled some dates owing to a family matter — from their posts on the social medias it seemed like something that couldn’t be avoided — but they’ve rescheduled a UK run for the end of March and into April, and promise a European tour is forthcoming. I’m wondering if the timing couldn’t be a clue to a release date for Solennial as well, though honestly I’d rather not wait that long. In any case, they’ve got a new video in the works too, so we should get a sampling of the album hopefully sooner than later.

Because have I mentioned I’m looking forward to the album?

Here are the dates:

alunah-uk-tour

ALUNAH – SOLENNIAL UK TOUR

We are playing the following UK dates in support of “Solennial” which is out early next year on Svart Records. A European tour to follow is currently being worked on.

Friday 31st March: The Chameleon, Nottingham
Saturday 1st April: The Moon Club, Cardiff
Thursday 6th April: The Flapper, Birmingham
Friday 7th April: Bannermans, Edinburgh
Saturday 8th April: Rebellion, Manchester
Sunday 9th April: The Lounge, London

Alunah is:
Sophie Day – Vocals & Guitar
David Day – Guitar
Daniel Burchmore – Bass
Jake Mason – Drums

www.facebook.com/alunah.doom
www.alunah.co.uk
www.svartrecords.com

Alunah, “Awakening the Forest” lyric video

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Alunah Announce New Album Solennial Due Early 2017

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 27th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

alunah

UK heavy forest rockers Alunah are currently at Skyhammer Studios, embroiled in the process of putting to tape their fourth full-length, Solennial. Venerable purveyors Svart Records will release the album early next year as the follow-up to 2014’s excellent, why-don’t-I-just-go-ahead-and-put-it-on-right-now-okay-I-think-I-will Awakening the Forest (review here), which came out on Napalm, and if you’re not looking forward to hearing why Chris Fielding can bring to Alunah‘s tones, you’ve either never heard the band before, never heard one of his productions before, or both. This is one that will feature prominently on my 2017 most anticipated list. It’s already been on there for a while.

Art is by Adrian Baxter, and you’ll find that, the tracklist, and parts of a bio I wrote below, all filtered down through the PR wire:

alunah-solennial-700

ALUNAH UNLEASH FIRST DETAILS OF NEW ALBUM!

‘Solennial’ coming early 2017 on Svart Records!

Hailing from the English Midlands, its finest stoner doom outfit ALUNAH are finally back in the studio and have now unveiled first and exciting details about a brand new album, which is set to see the light of day in early 2017 on Finland’s cult label Svart Records!

The charismatic band with their nature inspired, psychedelic and doomish spirit are currently working in the Skyhammer Studios with CONAN’s Chris Fielding, to record their 4th studio album. But while they do, ALUNAH have now unleashed first and hotly anticipated details from their upcoming record titled ‘SOLENNIAL’!

Cover artwork by Adrian Baxter.

“Adrian Baxter is an artist that has been on our radar for a year or so, his work struck a chord with us as soon as we saw it and we just had to work with him. He took my lyrics and created a masterpiece which encompasses every theme and subject matter from “Solennial”, it was completed quite a while ago so we’re happy it is finally seeing the light of day. This week we will be heading up North to Skyhammer Studio to record the album with Chris Fielding; we always aim to try different things with our music but we’re stepping way outside of our comfort zone this time, in more ways than one. We are very proud of the songs and can’t wait for them to be released.” Vocalist & guitarist of Alunah, Sophie Day, comments.

The tracklist of Solennial will read as follows:
1. The Dying Soil
2. Light of Winter
3. Feast of Torches
4. The Reckoning of Time
5. Fire of Thornborough Henge
6. Petrichor
7. Lugh’s Assembly
8. A Forest

For 10 years, since first coming together back in 2006, Alunah have trafficked in a blend of the earthly and the unearthly. Over the course of their three albums – 2010’s Call of Avernus, 2012’s White Hoarhound and 2014’s Awakening the Forest – the four-piece have been a constant force of progression into an individualised take on psychedelic and organic heft. Their material has never lacked structure or groove, but with the melodic vocals of guitarist Sophie Day ever at the fore, they keep an eye toward the ethereal as well.

As they always do, Alunah are moving forward. Sophie, guitarist David Day, bassist Daniel Burchmore and drummer Jake Mason have just recently signed to Svart Records for the early 2017 release of their fourth album Solennial, which they are currently recording with Chris Fielding (Conan) at Skyhammer Studio, also owned by Conan’s Jon Davis. Following in the footsteps of Svart alums Hexvessel, or Jess and the Ancient Ones, Alunah arrive at Svart Records preceded by a reputation for blending nature worship and heavy vibes with a grace that few can match, basking in a sun-soaked spirit of beauty and decay, folklore and deeply personal expression.

Look for them to expand their sonic palette with their upcoming album Solennial, set to be released in early 2017 on Svart Records, and see them build on what they’ve accomplished before in their rich, engaging sound that seems to be always wandering and never, ever lost.

Alunah live:
20.10.2016 UK – London, Devonshire Arms
21.10.2016 NL – Tilburg, Little Devil
22.10.2016 NL – Into the Void Festival, Leeuwarden
28.10.2016 UK – The Coal Vaults, Coventry

www.facebook.com/alunah.doom
www.alunah.co.uk
www.svartrecords.com

Alunah, “Awakening the Forest” lyric video

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Six Dumb Questions with Alunah

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on November 1st, 2012 by JJ Koczan

It comes and goes from the ether of the mental jukebox, but the chorus of the title-track to Alunah‘s White Hoarhound is 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, James Plotkin mastered it. This time Greg recorded, and Tony Reed 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, Arkham Witch 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.

Alunah on Bandcamp

PsycheDOOMelic Records

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