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"I don’t mind telling you I’ve been waiting for Alunah‘s new album for what feels like I really long time. The reality of the situation is that the Birmingham four-piece’s third offering and Napalm Records debut, Awakening the Forest, arrives just two years after their previous full-length, White Hoarhound, but as I’ve continued to enjoy that record since first hearing it, my affection for it only growing with the passing months, it seems much longer. I’m not sure what my ideal follow-up to White Hoarhound would’ve sounded like - or, more to the point, I can’t think of a way in which Awakening the Forest isn’t it.
For those who, like me, were fans of the last one or of 2010′s Call of Avernus before that, the riffs of Dave and Soph Day retain their bounce, and new bassist Dan Burchmore falls in step thickly with drummer Jake Mason to craft a lumbering but still nod-ready groove. At the same time, there’s clear progression evident. The band is more patient, the pieces that make up the memorable six songs more languid. In general, they sound like they’ve been working since White Hoarhound came out, which of course is precisely the case whether one thinks in the sense of getting on the road for shows or bringing in Burchmore and solidifying their lineup. Alunah come across as more comfortable with their psychedelic side - fitting for their consistently pastoral thematic - but Awakening the Forest presents some of their most doomed material as well.
To wit, the rollout of “Heavy Bough.” At just under six minutes, it’s among the shortest songs on Awakening the Forest (only “The Mask of Herne” is shorter, and by five seconds), and marked out by the lead and rhythm interplay of Soph and Dave‘s guitars as well as Soph‘s riff-riding verse and more open chorus. On an album full of hooks, “Heavy Bough” stands out for its nature worship and for its still-grounded take, sandwiched between the more ethereal opener “Bricket Wood Coven” and the side A finale title-track, but if it’s the first you’re hearing of the album, then its primary function will be to remind of just how easily an Alunah track can get stuck in your head. If this is your first experience with the band, all the better you’ve found them at this moment."