Sunday, 24 September 2017

Album Review: ALAZKA – Phoenix

RISING FROM THE ASHES TO NEW HEIGHTS, ALAZKA’S “PHOENIX” IS TRULY A REBIRTH

AlazkaThere’s a possibility that upon hearing the first track or two off PHOENIX, that it bends your ear to a familiarity; and not just because there is something within the music either. It’s more than fitting into a genre, or tone of a band or even a vocal style. For me, the first time I listened the familiarity came from the way my gut reacted to the structure of what I heard in the music because ALAZKA is a very emotionally charged band at their core. In being in tune with what their content was doing for them, created the connection for me.

The 12 song LP that is due out from under the SHARPTONE RECORDS umbrella on September 1st, is the byproduct of a series of changes with the band and the individual members. Once called BURNING DOWN ALASKA, the German melodic hardcore band changed their name, changed the lineup, and added clean vocalist KASSIM AUALE to the mix.

You know in chemistry class when the lab portion starts? You’re warned that combining this element with that solution or this solution with these compounds produce various reactions? ALAZKA totally takes what they once were and shapes themselves to what they are. PHOENIX is the band’s second release (first with SHARPTONE RECORDS). The familiarity I experienced came from a pulse of “BLOSSUM” that literally echoed in my being and stuck to me like a fresh spider’s web still tangled in my hair, despite my attempts in shaking it off.

Don’t you just love a good story where the unsuspected are victorious? I do. Even if I had a blindfold and earplugs jammed in my ears, I would still feel this sense of comfort, belonging or familiarity. As the record plays, I hear a culmination of consequences that created the foundation for the songs on PHOENIX. Look, I can’t tell you what an impression this record had on me. It’s beautifully written with super powered choruses, drops that feel like they took your kidney or stomach with you, lyrics that are infinitely somber yet hopeful and two vocal styles, all stuffed into 12 envelopes and tucked away for safekeeping.

Oh, this record is good y’all. Take the time out to chill and listen to it song by song. And as the CD begins, you might feel that you are on a journey towards your own rebirth, fueled by fiery friction from the music ALAZKA has created, as you rise from these ashes as your own Phoenix.

Track Notes:

“EVERYTHING” – watch out for the huge chorus as the riffs from the guitars might be reminiscent of what a donkey punch might feel like…of course if you’re into that sort of thing. Which of course, I’m not, of course.

“BLOSSOM” – there’s a groove, a swagger in this song that will bring you to the edge of the highest cliff and right when KASSIM punches that first line of the chorus, it startles you to the point of falling off the cliff but instead of falling – you soar right alongside the melody through the end of the song.

“FADING FLAME” – it’s never supposed to end that way, is it? As awkward as it might be to admit or say, we all know these kinds of endings create the best art when it does end. I love the image of a dying flame translates into music. The pounding of the drums could mimic an erratic heartbeat, confused by love and the possibility of it ending. (As this song played, I heard the most life-like interpretation as the clean’/unclean describe and document facts that take the gray areas and move them up or down to the black or white areas.)

“EMPTY THRONE” – this is a song with roller coaster ride ups and downs and as KASSIM and TOBIAS create the anxious feeling your stomach gets when those memories slowly drip into your mind like an old coffee pot brewing. But I have to say, what is created by these ups and downs are fucking beautiful.

“ASH” – this is where the rebirth happens; right before the chorus. There’s a buildup that TOBIAS crafts with his screams and then you’re plowed down by this unbelievable vocal and if you listen close enough, after the rest of the band is finished tugging at your core, as your ear is close to the speaker and this melody fused with a band in complete unison (where one begins and the other ends is hardly evident) turns you inside out. #truth

So straight up, this is a record that you must purchase. You have to if not for any other reason than to hear KASSIM’S voice blanket one of the tightest melodic metalcore bands I have heard in a long time. As the songs started to sink into my hard head, I really felt a spirit of letting go start to happen within me. These guys gave me an overwhelming sense of gratitude to them to have experienced the hard life lessons that turn into their way of resolving some issues or pieces of the life puzzle that can take us to the solution.

The mix of TOBIAS and KASSIM’s clean/unclean voices definitely made ALAZKA “level up” with the addition of KASSIM. IMHO KASSIM has one of the strongest male voices I have heard and I’m not kidding or blowing smoke. Aside from Nicholas of All Hail the Yeti, the energy that bounces between the two is serious. They have a deliberate fusion with the rest of the band and if they two singers were to sing with other players, I’m not 100% certain it wouldn’t have the same effect as they currently do.

PHOENIX is out now at all music outlets.

About Cherri Bird

Independent and selective rock journalist & wordsmith, focused on strengthening the connections between a fan and the bands they follow through the words she writes. Specializing in interviews, music & show reviews, and candid photography; Cherri takes what she discovers and pounds the social media pavement to fuse the energy that music brings us with the bands that create it.

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