Wander the Ice

Oct. 29, 2015


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I must say, it's been a pretty good year for female fronted metal groups. It always feels a little amiss to highlight such a thing, but let's face it, things are still far from equal in the scene. And while some groups unfortunately tote their singer around for sex appeal, there have been a number of understated bands where it's simply a natural part of their development. From Immortal Bird to Myrkur, all I know is I play stuff like this for my oldest as a counterpoint to her Barbies and Katy Perry. Metal dad version of "you can do whatever you want, no limitations."

But enough of that. This is The Fifth Alliance, a 5-piece sludge group from Breda, Netherlands. After releasing a full length debut in 2013 (available at the price of your choosing), the group has returned with 4 new lengthy songs to wander the barren ice to.

Heartfelt screeches bring forth comparisons to Anopheli and Tsunami Bomb, but definitely fit more in mood to the former. This is some dreary, doomy sludge. A level of despair in line with Triptykon or Raum Kingdom. Rumbling, glacier-carving basslines join with simple, but hooky guitar picking coated in Toolish delay and distortion. There's a feeling of isolation, but as the songs and bile escalate, the resulting flames could consume us all.

I'm partial to the last two tracks, but if I could only choose one it would be Dissension. This is a slightly more complex composition incorporating an acoustic intro and what feels like increased layering. The melody is also a shift, feeling a bit more sorrowful than angry. But it's the simple, yet provocative, lyrics and delivery that seem to grip me most tightly. Explosive introspection. It's a thing of beauty, especially on this rainy Portland morning.

The album will be available for mass consumption as of tomorrow on CD through Consouling Sounds (Belgium) and on tape through Breathe Plastic (Holland) & Diorama Records (Indonesia). There will be a vinyl release of Death Poems as well, which will be out early December.