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Album Reviews : Alarum – Eventuality

By on December 2, 2008

I’ve heard the name about the place, a number have people have insisted I check them out, and the image I held of them suggested that I would enjoy their music. So without listening to a note of their work before hand, I went right ahead and made a swift purchase of Alarum’s 2004 release titled ‘Eventuality’. One of the aforementioned indicators turned out correct, the other was simply misjudged in a good way! For the spruikers were right and on first listening, the band’s music was completely different than I expected, and in all assessment areas, better than their image led me to believe!

Jazz metal is the term, not coined by me of course, but one readily used by myself to describe that which is Alarum’s ‘Eventuality’. Reading up on the band, it is no surprise at all to learn that at least 2 members of the band began their musical careers as Jazz musicians. By blending this background with an undoubted personal taste of heavy metal music, the band has created what fans of bands such as Cynic and Atheist have no option but to enjoy.

The vocals on the album are somewhat of a contentious issue. Some critics would have you believe that they are not suited to some parts of the music; personally, I think those critics have had a misguided youth. In perfect contradiction to the music, the vocals often switch between harsh or rough styling, to their cleaner cousin in a Jazzier direction. One of the influences that I’m picking up in the vocals is an interesting one, that being UK doom/goth band Anathema. Another interesting note I’ve picked up on concerning the vocals is the Enslaved-ish way they are delivered. By holding some lyrics longer or shorter than one might expect, both vocalists create a slightly unpredictable yet constantly interesting angle for the overall music. While I’m not trying to suggest the bands are related in sound, I am trying to suggest that one of the most distinctive aspects of Enslaved’s vocals is the method in which they are delivered, and that is something intentional or not, that Alarum have replicated to a certain extent.

The mix on Eventuality in my book is first class. While sometimes lacking in heaviness, it more than makes up for it in the listeners ability to distinguish between each instrument easily. In my opinion, the bass guitar, when not following the guitar chords, is the most underrated instrument in music, and here it’s simply magical in the way the bass fretboard gymnastics are carried out. In fact I could imagine it being a fretless bass to start with, given he just seems to flow up and down without the slight limitations that frets may have on a player. The guitars are in no way outplayed either. This album is full of unbelievable note progressions and technicality. Just check out the solo in track 12 ‘Subject to Change’ among other great moments for immediate vindication of your purchase!

Other highlights throughout the album, which I should mentioned is interspersed with short and often instrumental jazzy passages, is the Meshuggah styled ‘Subject to Change’ and what is probably my reviewers choice – track 5 ‘Remote Viewing’, which will unleashes a smooth “I’m wearing sunglasses at night” feeling on you, the listener. Definitely give these guys a shot. And don’t be put off by the name jazz metal. B-Bop not included! 9/10

For fans of: Cynic, Meshuggah, Atheist, Five Star Prison Cell.

Band: Alarum
Album: Eventuality
Year: 2004
Genre: Progressive Metal, Jazz Metal
Label: Earache Records, under exclusive license from Willowtip Records
Notes: There are two different releases with different covers, so keep an eye out!
: Melbourne, Australia

Track listing:
1. Velocity
2. Sustained Connection
3. Lost Pleiad
4. Receiver
5. Remote Viewing (Reviewers Choice)
6. Inertial Grind
7. Cygnus X-1
8. Throughout the Moment
9. Woven Imbalance
10. Boundless Intent Part 1
11. Boundless Intent Part 2
12. Subject To Change
13. Event Duality
14. Audio Synthesis
15. Reconditioned
16. Hidden Track