It’s not really the time of the year for the dark and dreary, as most people in this part of the world look forward to brighter days and elevated moods. Everyone wants to be happy and rolling in sunshine and as far away from the oppressive late autumn and winter months as humanly possible.
All that is well and good, but personal darkness doesn’t exactly wash away with the seasons. Despite how wondrous things may feel and smell outside your doors, that doesn’t mean the heavy storms have subsided on the inside. For all of those people come Alaric, the dark punk bruisers from California who are back with their great second full-length “End of Mirrors,” their first since their debut offering five years ago. Their style is dark and brooding, with a deep sense of foreboding simmering beneath everything. It’s easy to envision dark afternoon skies, naked trees lining the skyline, and your body in a deep chill, unable to find comfort mentally or physically. Their music sounds like the embodiment of depression and agitation, a lashing out at what torments them in as aggressive a manner possible.
Alaric have been going since 2008 now, formed with the mission of creating dark and moody music much in the vein of Christian Death, Killing Joke, and bands of that ilk. Comprised of commanding vocalist Shane Baker, guitarist Russ Kent (also of Noothgrush), bassist Rick Jacobus, drummer Jason Willer, and sound artist Thomas Dimuzio, the band released a single in 2010, with their debut album landing a year later. They also were part of a really great split with Atriarch in 2012, with nothing else coming from the band since “End of Mirrors” arrived. This album, by the way, has two labels handling its release in various formats. Neurot Recordings is taking care of the CD and vinyl versions, while Sentient Ruin is putting out the music on cassette.
“Demon” kicks off the record, an 8:01 cut that sits in noisy interference and drone before the band launches into moody post-punk that’s utterly dreary. Guitars start to cut in, ramping up the doom (the latter moments are awash in Sabbath), while Baker layers a level of blackness over everything, fitting the cold, drizzling atmosphere perfectly. “Wreckage” strikes forward right away, with verses simmering in water, and the pace burning along. As the track winds down, the band suddenly hit a new gear, getting faster and nastier before the song ends in mesmerizing manner. “Mirrors” have the drums driving hard, chilling bass cutting a path, and guitars lighting up, even hitting on a weird shuffle at one point. Baker strikes an anxious note, wailing, “You told me don’t look in the mirror, because you’re shaking,” with the tempo punching and a thrashing, fiery end coming forth.
“Adore” has humid guitars and a slower movement, with Baker taunting, “I cut myself in two.” The track gets a little rougher and definitely has its punk edges, as everything goes off at one point, later piling into a long, psyche-fed jam. The drums blister, the song hypnotizes, and bells chime, leading the song away. “The Shrinking World” floods the senses, making your head spin, and filling the scene with paranoia. “The world is getting smaller and smaller,” Baker notes, and not in a warm way, and later worries, “I can see nowhere to go,” driving the scene into an ominous cloud. The title track is the shortest cut and most aggressive, trucking heavily through the sludge, with Baker accusing, “You’re fucked, you live like garbage,” as soloing scorches and the rest of the track scathes. Closer “Angel” feels like a foggy haze following a long rainfall, with the song bleeding and Baker pushing, “Dry your eyes and rise, you angels.” The song feels like an out-of-body experience in a way, with your head buzzing and reality seeming darker and harder to traverse.
The wait was worth it for new Alaric music, as this new record infuses a huge dose of darkness into the world, proving to those who fall closer to their type of mentality that it’s OK to embrace that side even when it’s bright and pleasant. This band always feels like an ashy cloud hanging overhead, dripping on you and causing you to shiver in your clothes. Drink in everything negative around you, and Alaric’s music will be a companion through your battle with hopeless waves.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Alaric-201671150715
To buy the album (CD or vinyl), go here: http://neurotrecordings.merchtable.com/
Or here (cassette): http://sentientruin.com/releases/alaric-end-of-mirrors
For more on the label, go here: http://www.neurotrecordings.com/
And here: http://sentientruin.com/