Like many modern doom bands, Alunah implements distinctly dark and light moments, creating a contrast that is tried and true. Just as on their previous albums, their lyrical themes involve mysticism, folklore, nature, and general sense of wonder. A lot of other groups focus on dark occult concepts (which I love), but Alunah has a more uplifting vibe at times, which is a nice change of pace.
The first half or so of the record has a number of hard-hitting numbers. “The Dying Soil” works well as an elegant, calm before the storm intro, seguing into “Light of Winter,” which is my favorite track. It has a menacing tone with vocal melodies that swing like a pendulum weighing a ton. I really hope that one becomes a live staple. “Feast of Torches” feels like a natural follow-up. Though not as heavy, I really dig Sophie’s charismatic delivery. Similarly, “The Reckoning of Time,” has a wonderful chorus and melodies to boot. “The Fire of Thornborough Henge” is about an ancient English monument and is my other favorite track from the record. The number contains catchy riffs and is majestically spellbinding. The next two tracks “Petrichor” and “Lugh’s Assembly” slow it down a bit for a solemn tone, a bit bluesy, but still in tune with the heavy material. I particularity love the line “My final sacrifice – it wears me to the bone“. It is yearnfully performed and I seem to be drawn to songs about sacrifice. The record ends with a cover from The Cure oddly enough – “A Forest”. It fits in with the continuity of the album, though is probably my least favorite track on the LP. It doesn’t have the uniqueness of the other songs, but not bad still.
Solennial is a dark yet serene album that emits a visceral sense of the ethereal with a healthy supply of wizardry. The songwriting is strong and varied throughout, never a bore. I really hope this record propels Alunah and allows the band to come to the other side of the pond. This is my favorite release of the year so far for sure.