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2nd December 2016 – Rockosmos

01. Thief
02. On Intermission
03. Where the Others Go
04. Faultline

I mostly travel in doom and sludge circles, where’s often an air of mistrust for djent and technical metal; the riffs are too clean, they don’t use proper amps, and some people are just grumpy and don’t like trends. It’s sad when friends fight.

So it’s great when you get a release that straddles some boundaries; this is absolutely the case with Alpha, Awooga‘s new EP.

Broadly, Awooga are a mix of Deftones/Tool-esque psychedelic grunge and some electronic elements in a modern, clean package. There’s definitely enough there for fans of heavy, weird stuff; they’ve got the spark and bite of a lot of the grungier stoner and doom bands, but their ideas are much clearer and crisper. This is particularly apparent on second track “On Intermission“, which opens to some gentle vocalising but moves to more active riffs and deft tom fills. What’s clear from the outset is their willingness to be delicate and the skill to do this without compromising their power.

Their techy approach to grunge is helped by the stellar production values: they’ve gone for a super-clean, layered approach which is head and shoulders above the production of other bands at around their level. Though the vocals are handled well in the mix, the heavy Deftones influence does mean sometimes the album feels like it should be leaning towards more straight hooks; the release favours the vocals as another syrupy texture.

Part of the sparkle of Alpha is the sounds themselves; returning to an earlier point about their clarity of expression, they nail their experimental and electronic elements because they’re so tastefully placed. There’s a sense that the real sonic richness of the group is best expressed when the drama dies down (notably the intro sections to “On Intermission” and “Faultline“). Though there’s clear care in crafting the songs themselves, the most successful element of the EP is the layered, lush sound; the phrase “grungegaze” has been thrown around and seems the most appropriate genre tag for them.

Alpha is a really solid release, cherry-picking a lot of sounds from some clear influences with a fantastically crisp presentation. There is a sense that the group are establishing their sound, presenting what is undoubtedly a sonically unified package; a longer release will provide them with the scope to try some more out-there tracks. What I’m really hoping from these guys is that we get honest-to-god bangers; they’ve made excellent choices on this release and I’m hoping this translates to some really solid, catchy tracks later on in their career. Firmly one to watch.

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