Album Review – Alunah / Violet Hour (2019)

The Stygian clouds of doom are coming to darken the skies to the sound of the newborn spawn by a fantastic UK-based Hard Rock and Doom Metal unity.

Brace yourselves, my dear metalheads, as the Stygian clouds of doom are coming to darken the skies to the sound of Violet Hour, the brand new album by UK-based Hard Rock/Doom Metal frontrunners Alunah, one of the best albums of 2019 from the underground and independent scene without a shadow of a doubt. Founded in 2006 in “Sabbath City”, usually referred to as Birmingham, the band comprised of the enchantress Siân Greenaway on vocals, the talented Dean Ashton (bassist for UK’s Hard Rock institution Diamond Head) on the guitar, the unstoppable Daniel Burchmore on bass and founding member Jake Mason on drums is ready to strike once again harder than ever, bringing more riffs, more swagger and more groove to our avid ears with their newborn opus.

Recorded at Wales’ historic Foel Studio, produced by Chris Fielding (Skyhammer Studio), and featuring a beyond obscure and captivating artwork by Brazilian artist Felipe Froeder (Arcano XV), Violent Hour offers the listener a searing combination of intoxicating melodies and riffs on top of a high-class songwriting. “Alunah are very happy and excited to release Violet Hour to the world. It has been so enjoyable to write and record this album during an energetic and focused period for the band. Having it released on Heavy Psych Sounds is a great feeling and we cannot wait for people to hear it. The time to fear is now!”, commented the band about the album, inviting all of us to join them in their quest for old school doom.

Siân and the boys don’t give us a single second to breathe in the amazing opening track Trapped & Bound, spearheaded by Dean’s heavy-as-hell riffs and Jake’s pounding drums. I dare you to not bang your head to the song’s hypnotizing rhythm, a perfect fusion of the doomed music by Black Sabbath with the badass Sludge Metal played by Crowbar, and to show you how awesome this song is, it’s also featured on the 2019 compilation Doomed & Stoned in England, just like another crushing song by their countrymen Warcrab. And the somber, deep and addictive vocals by Siân add an extra touch of evil to the dark and sluggish Dance of Deceit, where Dean and Daniel are merciless with their stringed weapons, not to mention Dean’s amazing solo as the icing on the cake.

Then we’re treated to Hunt, a lesson in Doom Metal by Alunah sounding slow and enthralling form start to finish, with Jake’s beats bringing nuances of melancholy to the music while Siân beautifully declaims the song’s devilish lyrics. Put differently, it reminds me of some of the best tracks from Heaven & Hell’s classic The Devil You Know, and if you like that album you know what I’m talking about. In Hypnotised the name of the song says it all, with Dean being on fire with his demonic riffage and solos while Daniel couldn’t sound more thunderous on bass. Hence, it keeps the album at a high level of heaviness and darkness, being therefore recommended for all your beer-drinking, headbanging moments in life, whereas the title-track Violet Hour is just as mesmerizing and delicious as its predecessors, with Siân’s vocals sounding so powerful it’s hard to describe them in just a few words, and with Dean slashing our ears and minds with his grim guitar lines.

Jake smashes his drums fiercely in the also obscure and sexy Unholy Disease, one of those Doom Metal songs that will put you in a trance, or in other words, your soul belongs solely to Siân during the song’s five minutes of razor-edged riffs, low-tuned bass punches and an endless amount of electricity. Velvet sounds as delicate but at the same time as hot and striking as velvet itself, being the perfect soundtrack for a movie scene at an obscure pub somewhere in the middle of England, while Jake keeps hammering his drums slowly and steady just the way we like it, nicely boosted by Daniel’s metallic, rumbling bass. And crisp guitar lines and an enfolding atmosphere are the main ingredients in Lake of Fire, a dark and serene composition showcasing another flawless vocal performance by Siân supported by the thunderous sounds blasted by her bandmates, making you want to walk into a real lake of fire with her until the song’s ethereal finale.

This precious gem of classic Doom Metal made in the UK is already on pre-sale on the Heavy Psych Sounds Records’ BandCamp and webstore, as well as on several other locations such as the All That Is Heavy webstore, the Season of Mist webstore, the Shiny Beast music mailorder, and Amazon. Having said that, simply let your mind be enfolded by the spellbinding Doom Metal delivered by Alunah in Violet Hour, and may your damned soul forever be comfortable in darkness, exactly how we expect it to be in first-class Doom Metal from the always somber and charming United Kingdom.

Best moments of the album: Trapped & Bound, Hunt and Unholy Disease.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Heavy Psych Sounds Records

Track listing
1. Trapped & Bound 4:58
2. Dance of Deceit 3:54
3. Hunt 5:38
4. Hypnotised 6:11
5. Violet Hour 4:24
6. Unholy Disease 4:55
7. Velvet 6:22
8. Lake of Fire 6:33

Band members
Siân Greenaway – vocals
Dean Ashton – guitar
Daniel Burchmore – bass
Jake Mason – drums

Album Review – Antipope / Denial/Survival (2017)

Bending the genre boundaries and creating a unique musical journey in the spirit of classic progressive albums of the 70’s, this Finnish act returns from a four-year hiatus to offer us all their music in its most uncompromising form.

As a nice Christmas gift to all readers of The Headbanging Moose, I have for you today Denial/Survival, the fourth full-length album by Finnish Progressive Black Metal trinity Antipope, whose music is according to the band itself a free expression of whatever styles, themes or moods might be needed to relate the particular message to the listener. Although the band is considered by many as Black Metal, the name Antipope stands for liberation from any and all dogmas and renouncement of intellectual and ideological authorities, being the soundtrack for self-discovery, death and rebirth.

Formed in 2004 in the city of Oulu, the band comprised of founder Mikko Myllykangas on vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar and programming, Antti J. Karjalainen on guitars and Tuska E. on drums returns from a four-year hiatus with Denial/Survival, presenting their characteristic style of bending the genre boundaries and creating a unique musical journey in the spirit of classic progressive albums of the 70’s. Combining elements of Extreme Metal, Melodic Death Metal and even a bit of Flamenco, and featuring an imposing artwork by Finnish artist Tiina Kaakkuriniemi, Denial/Survival will offer you the music of Antipope in its most uncompromising form, and I’m sure you’ll have a good time while listening to such diverse album of extreme music.

In the opening track, titled Waters Below, we already face the multi-layered music by the trio, with an instrumental beginning that goes on for about two minutes before devastation arrives through the hellish growls by Mikko in a rhythmic and epic display of modern Black Metal; followed by Flat Circle, which presents hints of Atmospheric Black Metal infused in their more straightforward Scandinavian Extreme Metal. Moreover, Tuska does a solid job going from a more progressive style to visceral blast beats that live up to the legacy of Black Metal. And in the title-track Denial/Survival the band speeds up their pace and distills their venom through their austere words (“I woke up in the land of denial / It’s true the guilt is all you care for / Seeing you and the rest of your kind / Wallowing in self-pity and mutual rape”) in a true headbanging hymn perfect for cracking your spinal cord, which obviously translates into one of the top moments of the album.

The ominous, darkened instrumental bridge Der Sadist sets the tone for the even more obscure Black Metal chant Hunt, with the mid-tempo beats by Tuska being effectively blended with the crisp guitar lines by Antti, sounding more introspective and melancholic than the rest of the album. Then get ready to be smashed by the futuristic and melodic (but still very raw) onrush of extreme music named True Anarchist, sounding at times like Marilyn Manson, with Antti once again firing his captivating riffs, before the atmospheric and ominous creation Mindlessness Meditation brings forward cavernous bass lines by Mikko, who darkly declaims the song’s cryptic lyrics.

An Unconditional Ritual to Summon the Prince of Darkness, a slow-paced chant that could actually be used to summon an evil entity, presents words that sound and fell infernal (“This is how it begins, the last phase / A thousand step descent into the unknown / The words extend the rays of light / From the shadows a new mind”), whereas in Tragic Vision we can feel their music growing in intensity as time passes by, with Mikko and Antti making a great guitar duo by blasting some wicked riffs. Furthermore, the whole song has a touch of epicness that makes it very exciting to listen to, not to mention Tuska’s galloping beats in perfect sync with his bandmates’ stringed weapons. And as the closing song of the album Antipope deliver what is also the longest of all tunes, entitled Resolution, which could easily be used in the soundtrack for a slasher flick or a Tarantino-style movie, helping the album stand out among other extreme bands for its versatility and innovative approach.

I’m certain that, after listening to Denial/Survival, you’ll be more than curious to know more about Antipope and their distinct career, and in order to do that simply go check what Mikko & Co. are up to on Facebook, watch to their classy videos on YouTube and listen to their music on Spotify, and purchase the album through their BandCamp page or on iTunes. There’s nothing better than celebrating Christmas with some nice extreme music made in Finland, a country where Santa Claus is supposed to live (in the cold and charming Lapland, the largest and northernmost region of the country), so don’t waste your time and go show your support to this very interesting underground act. Well, if you don’t do so, I guess Santa will have to cross “somebody’s” name from his list next year.

Best moments of the album: Denial/Survival, Hunt and Tragic Vision.

Worst moments of the album: Flat Circle.

Released in 2017 Antipope/TCM Entertainment

Track listing
1. Waters Below 5:25
2. Flat Circle 5:40
3. Denial/Survival 5:06
4. Der Sadist 3:22
5. Hunt 7:08
6. True Anarchist 4:23
7. Mindlessness Meditation 4:34
8. An Unconditional Ritual to Summon the Prince of Darkness 5:29
9. Tragic Vision 4:25
10. Resolution 7:13

Band members
Mikko Myllykangas – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar, programming
Antti J. Karjalainen – guitars
Tuska E. – drums