PICK OF THE WEEK: Alraune ignite new black metal torches on ‘The Process of Self-Immolation’

AlrauneSurely you’ve put on a record before that, the moment the sounds begin to assault you from your speakers, you stop dead in your tracks. This doesn’t happen to me often enough, mostly because of metal’s over saturation and that I listen to anywhere from 10-30 new records per week. But when it does, you have my attention.

I just started a new job, and getting used to being up early and driving a vehicle competently among a sea of people who aren’t, took some adjusting. Having music like I described above provided a huge boost, and I got that with “The Process of Self-Immolation,” the debut full-length from Nashville black metal monsters Alraune. The music is immediate, sudden, and savage, and there is a huge wave of creativity locked into their style that separates them from the many other bands trying this same thing. They sound primitive, animalistic, and raw, but they also have a modernity to them that draws you in. It’s sort of like hearing familiar sounds in a new vein, because these guys have their own way of approaching these dark arts and raucously displaying them for you their own way, doubters be damned. This record is such a force, it’s taking two labels to get this madness to the people–Profound Lore is handling CD and digital, while Gilead Media is releasing the vinyl a little later this summer. When you hear this monster, you’ll understand why it’s taking this effort to get it into as many ears as humanly possible.

Alraune coverDepending on what other underground extreme metal bands you follow, you might know some of the players in this formidable new band. Guitarist/vocalist Z. Allen also works as sound engineer for doom metal maulers Loss, plays in Vesicus, and used to play in Mourner; while drummer T. Coburn is a member of noise heathens Yautja (who you need to hear if you haven’t already) as well as Gnarwhal. With them are guitarist J. House and bassist J. Weilburg, and their power is undeniable and full of dynamic energy. Yes their sound is dirty, unpolished, and guttural, but you can hear the inventiveness and freshness of their playing, and they are one of the most exciting new U.S. black metal bands to crop up over the past few years. These guys sound like the future.

The first thing that greets listeners is the off-kilter, string-strangled, but oddly melodic “Prelude,” a brief instrumental that isn’t just there as a standard introduction. It’s alluring and different, and the feel of the thing makes it clear you’re in for something different. “Exordium” practically bursts from its cage, with nasty, feral black metal melodies, and the vocals sound unhinged and able to warp any sense of morality that exists inside you. There are moments of crusty fury, eventually some scintillating atmosphere that slows you down to take some deep breaths, and drums that rip apart any sign of beauty. The band begins to wrap up their loose ends, and the track concludes on a majestic note. “Simulacra” starts with weird guitar playing that sounds like it’s coming from a warped machine, and the it’s onto a prog-fueled section that could have you tilting you head with intrigue. A storm blows in our of the calm, with the band firing hammers at you with some of the most sweltering guitar riffs known to man, and the vocals go from creaky growl to a hardcore-style shout, as if trying to round up like-minded souls to join their mission. The song has a ton of twists and turns, never alerting you when a neck-wrenching turn is coming, and the final moments switch from warm to cold, bleeding into what’s next.

That would be “Kissed By the Red,” a track that opens with soaring glory and static damage that mix together perfectly. Vicious growls roll into cascading black melodies and continual metamorphoses by the band. The track never stays in one place for very long, but it’s not just piling on changes and abrupt halts for nothing. The guys are going somewhere with this, dragging you around unexpected corners, down the wormhole, and as the song reaches its finish, the violence bursts anew. The final moments come from Isla Cameron’s chilling take of “O Willow Waly,” from the 1961 film “The Innocents.” It crackles like it’s spilling in from a dream, and it’s hard not to feel a chill down your spine at that very moment. The closing title track is the longest song on here at 11:17, and it opens in a rabid metallic outburst that is mean and blistering. The vocals sound like they’re coming from an asphyxiated throat, getting across the feeling of chaos and damaged thoughts, and just like the other songs on the record, it twists, turns, and puts on new faces that give the track an entirely new personality continually. Some gazey darkness sweeps in, preceding a section that feels like heavy rains are drowning the earth, and the final minutes of the song are swirling, incredibly ambitious, and trying their damnest to take out as many as people possible with its wilding aimed fists. These ae 38 of the most exciting metal you’ll hear all year long, and the only thing you can do is be thankful that you got to be a part of it.

Alraune is a great new hope for black metal, and their first album “The Process of Self-Immolation” is one you should make a point to hear as soon as possible. This is a destination release for 2014, the emergence of a new band that could be a hellacious force heading into the future and one that could rewrite the template for this style of music. This is a collection that forces heads to turn, as violently as possible, and they have on their hands one of the best debut records of 2014.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/ALRAUNE/132403286836721

To buy the album, go here: https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/products-page/

Or here (click on upcoming/pre-order): http://www.gileadmedia.net/store/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.profoundlorerecords.com/

Or here: http://www.gileadmedia.net/

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