Now that US progressive metallers Alaya have unveiled their debut album we can confirm that the feisty buzz and acclaim for the Chicago trio is more than just for their powerful sound and presence. Thrones is a formidable adventure of technical prowess and passionate endeavour funnelled into a ferociously compelling and imaginative experience. Anticipation for the band’s debut has been as eager and fiery as the sounds it offers and it is easy to say that no one will be disappointed by the encounter just awe inspired.
It is fair to say that Thrones took longer than some to unveil its intensive persuasion though that was nothing to do with accessibility issues just the richness of depth and invention waiting to be discovered. It is a dramatic and demanding listen with its never ending twists and persistent evolution and unashamedly rewarding every step of the way. There are times where arguably the landscape of melodic fire and unrestrained technical ingenuity suffocates the chance of memorable moments within some songs preventing them being as strong a lingering temptation as they deserve but in their hands senses and emotions are invigorated playthings for a thoroughly riveting proposition.
Consisting of vocalist/guitarist Evan Graham Dunn, bassist/vocalist Michael Brandt Rinkenberger, and drummer David Jacob Robison, Alaya has forged a formidable reputation which has caught the imagination of fans and musicians alike as well as the media. Offered comparisons to the likes of Periphery, Muse, and Protest The Hero, the band has still forged its own distinct identity which bursts from Thrones like a corona ejection. Over two years in the making, the Basick Records released album is a soulful and soul filling tempest of melodic beauty, intrusively confrontational technical rhythms, and exploratory incisive grooves all under deeply evocative atmospheres and similarly sculpted lyrical narratives. It is easy to see why Alaya have been smothered in strong plaudits and easy to join the queue.
The expansive adventure of the album begins with Inside, its initial coaxing of sharp grooves and punchy rhythms a restrained yet eager pull which once stepping aside for a gentle caress bursts forward again with sinews flexing and colours blazing. The vocals of Dunn ably assisted by the tones of Rinkenberger throughout are as immediately impressive as the sounds, his delivery adding spice to the tale and texture to the already shifting scenery. The track twists and veers down unpredictable and intensively investigated avenues, rhythms a constant heavy provocateur and guitars a designer of the most enthralling incitements.
The impressive start is taken to another level by the following White Noise, its first acidic strike relaxing into a seducing enticement of melodic crooning veined by a rhythmic virulence, both courting the continuing to impress vocals. It is a relatively gentle absorption of the imagination but one which infuses an intimidating threat to its mesmeric landscape. Forceful and restrained, open and intriguingly deceptive, the track continues to reveal extra corners to its imposing beauty and appetising shadows which fascinate and envelop.
Both Sleep and Screaming Still tighten the hold of the album, the first with its emotive breath and drama clad rhythmic framing around an expressively engaging melodic painting and the second with its simply virulently gripping enterprise. A definite Muse like lilt casts its spice to the thrilling and tantalising technical waltz of the song, flavoursome bait which accentuates every muscle and creative hue of the exciting endeavour. Its intensive suasion is matched by the more melancholic Poor Gloria, an emotive hug which whilst filling the ears on a slow canter has a flame to its passion and expression reinforcing the diversity of songwriting and sound. It does not quite light the fires within as other songs but still leaves a greedy appetite and hunger concentrated on Alaya and album.
Haunted Pt. I is a delightful brief instrumental which is as emotive as it is elegant, lighting up the imagination ready for the outstanding Grace to rummage through shadows. Thrones seems to take on a darker intensive intent at this point, the track bringing a more rapacious snarl to its riffs and antagonistic punch to its rhythmic manipulations. The vocals also gain a slight growl to their expression whilst around them the song resonates across the senses with angular strikes of guitar and jagged spears of beats aligned to similarly predacious bass surges. It is an exceptional track, one which does linger long after the curtains close as does the next up Day of the Dead, its opening swarm of sonics an instant scar for thoughts to hang on to before a celestial melody cast grace falls over the ears. The song soon explores its provocative beauty in strong emotive detail before the title track launches another contagion soaked exploration of sound, textures, and thoughts.
The pair of Paths and Entropy keep the engrossing nature of the album in full flight even if neither quite steal the same rich responses as other tracks. Both ensure the album continues to hold the tightest grip on body and mind though with their fluid transformations and irresistible technical craft, which allows the closing two parts of Haunted to exploit and send the imagination off to explore and draw its own premises.
Thrones is a scintillating encounter from a band making existing claims about them pale against the reality. As mentioned there are maybe too many tracks which drift in the memory away from their captivating embraces to push the album into the terms of a classic debut but it is certainly an immensely powerful and stunningly inventive one declaring Alaya as one of the most exciting emerging forces around.
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