To these world weary ears ALUNAH‘s back catalogue presents a dichotomy between, on one hand, their unmistakably BLACK SABBATH–esque doomy tones and on the other their lyrics, which tend to focus on spirituality and the natural world. Solennial still has the sonerous overtones of yore, but introduces more melody and more varied instrumentation than has previously been the case. This allied to the ever ethereal vocals of Sophie Day means that Solennial represents ALUNAH‘s most complete work yet.
This newly enhanced sonic pallette is stongly hinted at by opening track The Dying Soil. There’s ALUNAH‘s trademark concern about mankind’s relationship with its environment, but the vehicle used to get across the intended message of the song is a measured display of atmospherics akin to 90s indie types MADDER ROSE.
Light Of Winter sits closer to the contents of White Hoarhound or Awakening The Forest than anything else on Solennial. By contrast, Feast of Torches perfectly illustrates the fork in the path ALUNAH have decided to follow. Lyrically its based around upon Goddess Diana, goddess of the hunt and wild animals. It sounds like a very simple song, but there are subtle intricacies throughout; a reflective opening opening minute, huge monolithic riffing and a heftier dollop of psychedelia than the band have previously graced us with. Reckoning Of Time is the beast of two faces; by one turn modest introspection, by another, bombast and bluster. Fire of Thonborough Henge tells a wonderfully evocative tale of the Brigantian celebration of Beltane at one of Britain’s most important ancient sites.
As with a number of the other tracks on Solennial, its impossible to mention Petrichor without musing upon the spiritual intent behind the lyrics. Petrichor is the smell of rain that is falling, or about to fall, on a parched landscape. The song is enhanced with a soupcon of cello, before some beefy, booming riffs bellow their bravado. Lugh’s Assembly lures the unwary listener into its story by mutating at its midpoint into a multifarious miscellany of influences.
The concluding track is a faithful, metallic run through of A Forest by THE CURE which poses an interesting question. Solennial is manna from heaven for those who gravitate towards release described using the words ‘doom’ and ‘stoner’. It would be a shame if Solennial’s appeal was constrained by those genre boundaries, as there’s a breadth of sound here which could easily see it reach out to a much wider audience. ALUNAH‘s Solennial is their best album to date, striking a better balance between their sound and their environmentally-aware pagan beliefs than anything released before.
Solennial is set for release on March 17th via Svart Records.
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