Published on June 1st, 2015 | by Gareth Allen0
Alunah Live – Edinburgh Bannerman’s 16/5/15
There can be little doubt that the audience is growing inexorably for Alunah’s highly original blues, folk and psychedelic influenced doom metal. It was very evident in the large crowd that turned out to see them at Edinburgh’s Bannerman’s venue, and in the incredibly enthusiastic reception they received.
Sonic Bandwagon had the privilege to hear the band while they were sound checking before the gig, on ‘Bricket Wood Coven’ from the latest album ‘Awakening the Forest’. The small gathering listening in broke into spontaneous applause at the end….yes they are that good even when sound checking!
Bannerman’s, with its long tunnel like appearance, resonates of the Cavern in Liverpool, where the Beatles first paid their live dues. Alunah are similarly a hard working very talented band, who really care about their music and audience, and are prepared to work hard to get their musical vision across.
‘Bricket Wood Coven’ breaks in the set as the band quickly locks into their unique sound, combing a very deep heavy riff with some great bluesy flourishes, and Sophie’s characteristically emotionally expressive vocals and lyrics. Dan’s brilliant bass break adds a real snappy groove to Dave’s wailing guitar soloing over the song’s coda.
‘Heavy Bough’ follows with Jake’s effortless looking, yet complex drumming accents around the kit, establishing a fabulously atmospheric intro before the song settles into a groove laden rhythm. Sophie’s vocals on the chorus soar above the audience, and the brilliant Clapton like sounding guitar break at the end makes this a real highlight of the current live set.
‘Scourge and the Kiss‘, with its sweet dedication to the couple from Dundee, who bring a bottle of wine for the band to their Scottish gigs, reveals Sophie smiling from the stage, feeling the warmth and appreciation flowing from the audience towards the band.
‘Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn’, from the first album, ‘Call of Avernus’, has a very southern sludgy feel with the band not afraid to leave a musical space midway through the song, and then gradually build the song again through letting each instrument back in again in turn. It’s also very bluesy, with Sophie singing over the top of the instruments with her eyes closed and sounding like Janis Joplin or Billie Holliday at their most poignant.
‘Belial’s Fjord’ from the second album ‘White Hoarhound’, starts with a rolling drum pattern and some feedback laden guitar work. The main riff kicks in, and midway through Sophie moves the mic into position for a completely mesmerising and immersive wordless vocal to emerge that feels like it came from somewhere very deep, hitting you right in the heart. Just spine tingling! A west coast sounding wah-wah guitar solo from Dave causes Bannerman’s to become for a fleeting moment, the legendary Fillmore West from 1960s San Francisco. Just superb!
‘White Hoarhound’ is touchingly dedicated to the sadly departed BB King and Terry Jones of Pagan Alter.
Alunah are a band to take to your heart and treasure. They make music that means something. Drawing on an eclectic pallet of influences, they ultimately transcend those influences to create highly original music, which connects with an audience on a strikingly emotional level.
They have just been announced for the Bloodstock Festival, playing on the Sophie Lancaster stage on the Sunday. If you are going to Bloodstock this year you are in for a rare treat! You absolutely must catch them playing.
All photographs for this review by Lewis Allen.