Alaric – End Of Mirrors

Posted: 1 May 2016 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Neurot Records – 6th May 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

The story goes that Alaric (featuring within its ranks current and former members Of Dead And Gone, Pins Of Light, Noothgrush, Hedersleben and UK Subs) began their journey in 2008 with an eye toward creating a moody and compelling music of a sort not often performed in this time and space. A different concept of doom, beginning with influences from such progenitors as Killing Joke and Christian Death to the darkest, heaviest punk bands and the most epic psychedelia. A good-time, feel-good party band they are not.

I am going for a ‘sheets of electric rain’ guitar sound, says guitarist Russ Kent. This should perhaps give an indication of the fact that End of Mirrors finds Alaric exploring some bleak territory, in which guitar riffs are not the driving aspect of the sound, and whereby the guitars provide texture and density instead of shape or form. Using the guitar in this way is by no means new: from the late 70s and early 80s, bands like Sonic Youth, Swans and Bauhaus shifted the emphasis toward the rhythm section, with the guitar serving not a secondary, but alternative musical function. It’s from this background that Alaric’s sound can be found emerging, and End of Mirrors betrays heavy influence from the no-wave and early goth (before it was called goth and was simply a dark strain of post-punk) scenes, infused with a very metal edge. As such, while it’s very much steeped in a number of 80s styles, it’s an album which incorporates them in unusual and innovative ways.

Eight-minute opener ‘Demon’ sets the tone. A lengthy, atmospheric introduction of trudging percussion and simmering feedback gives way to a crushing riff, from which emerges a big, meandering bass-led groove, part Sabbath, part Neurosis. ‘Wreckage’ builds a bleak scene with squalling, spindly guitars layered over a thunderous drum and heavily flanged bassline reminiscent of Pornography-era Cure. But the throaty vocals are more Al Jurgensen circa The Land of Rape and Honey. Moody and intense, the dark despondency carries through into ‘Mirror’. ‘Don’t look in the mirror,’ Shane Baker growls in a deceptively catchy chorus before the song suddenly explodes into grinding thrash riff that piledrives it to another plane.

It’s unexpected twists like this which break the barren expanses of claustrophobic doubt. And do be clear, it’s very much the Rozz Williams incarnation of Christian Death that manifests in the interloping guitar lines of ‘Adore’, and if ‘The Shrinking World’ sounds like an early JG Ballard novel, the metallic scrape encapsulates a near-future dystopia worthy of the great author. The title track is a Melvins-like blast of grinding thrash, a thunderous tempest of a track that sears in at under three explosive minutes, and marks quite a contrast from the longer goth-orientated pieces which dominate the album.

As a whole, it’s a dark, almost apocalyptic sweep of sound. Sitting alongside the recent releases by Se Delan and Madame Mayflower, 2016 is starting to look like the year goth is reborn. Forget darkwave and all that cal: emerging from a protracted period of social and economic turmoil, uncertainty, unrest, fear and an all-pervading sense of existential trauma, we’re back in the late 70s and early 80s, and this is the real deal.

 

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Alaric Online

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