Alunah - Amber & Gold (EP) (LP)
Catalog number: ALUNAH001
Having started playing shows together late last year, it only makes sense that UK doom rockers Alunah would want to test the breadth of their new lineup in the studio as well. Thus arrives on Nov. 16 the limited self-release vinyl/digital EP Amber & Gold comprised of an instrumental introduction, two new original songs and a cover of Chris Isaak‘s “Wicked Game” that mark the first recorded appearance of the band with new frontwoman Siân Greenaway at the mic. Both the title-track and “Awn” make for a fitting showcase for Greenaway‘s integration with the lineup of guitarist David Day, bassist Dan Burchmore and drummer Jake Mason, and as the group move past their latest full-length, 2017’s Solennial (review here), they seem poised as well at the precipice of a new era with Greenaway taking the place of former guitarist/vocalist Sophie Day.
It is not a minor replacement. For a decade, Soph was a major factor in Alunah‘s sound and lyrical aesthetic. Greenaway does not shy from the task before her in these tracks. Instead, as the opening “Mångata” builds tension across its two and a half minutes leading into the title-cut, she steps forward and cuts through the chugging riff around her and a lead guitar line with immediate command and melodic presence. Richalunah amber and gold with vibrato and an almost goth sensibility, to some of her semi-spoken verses, she nonetheless suits the rolling groove of the chorus fluidly, and as the song dips into a psychedelic bridge in its second half, she meets the drift head on in a manner that provides a human foundation and cleverly sets the stage for a return to the hook, which, as is Alunah‘s wont, is top grade. “Awn” follows suit with a more patient unfolding and arrangement of layers, with Mason‘s drums assuring the signature bounce of Alunah‘s rhythms is maintained through the verse as Burchmore‘s thickened tone provides familiar warmth and Day peppers in solos for accent between verses.
That Alunah would come out of these two originals sounding so much like Alunah is something of a relief for someone who’s a fan — as I am — but Greenaway makes an impression here as well, and it’s clear the band are looking to expand their sound in multiple directions even as they hold onto some familiar aspects of their approach. About the Chris Isaak cover: Alunah actually aren’t the first heavy band to take on “Wicked Game.” I believe that honor goes to Slow Horse circa 1999, but it well suits the largesse of tone Alunah bring to it, and the brooding vocals take on a sultry tone despite reminding of the kind of atmosphere Type O Negative might bring to such a cover. - The Obelisk