Not long ago, November 25th to be precise, the Canadian band Alienatör from Thunder Bay, Ontario, released their second album, Regrets. It’s the kind of album, coming in the late fall from a largely unheralded group, that easily could have flown under the radar. That might have been good for radar screens, which otherwise would have been fractured from the impact, but not so good for listeners, who might have missed a strikingly multi-faceted and emotionally raw and uncompromising experience.
“Sludge metal” might be one label for what you’ll find on Regrets, but that descriptor is too confining, because it doesn’t capture the music’s other ingredients, which range from punk and hardcore to noise rock, or the acid-drenched knife-storm of the lead vocals, which would make most black metal bands proud. Not for naught has the album been recommended for fans of Unsane, Converge, Cursed, Botch, and Jesus Lizard, but those references probably don’t do Regrets complete justice either.
It’s fair to say that Regrets reflects a dark and chaotic time in history, “exploring personal themes, as well as racism, and abuse of power in Canada and the erosion of truth we’ve seen in modern times” (as the band say), but there’s as much fight in the music as there is disgust and despair, and glimpses of self-reflection and o beauty that seem like a window to better times that might come, even if that now seems like a fool’s bet.
In a nutshell, even here in the year’s dwindling days, this is a free-wheeling and cathartic album that’s worth attention. The more people who her Regrets, the more fans it will earn, and to help give it a push we’re premiering a video for the title track today.
photo by Peter David Wragg
The video (directed by Peter David Wragg) does a very good job showing just how much of themselves the band throw into the music when they perform — all three of them. And the song itself is a dynamic affair that definitely has its bleak and bruising elements, but portrays resilience ss well. Here’s what vocalist/guitarist Brad King says about it:
One of the more heartfelt and emotional songs we’ve done, this one deals with personal struggles and the passage of time. I like the energy and looser feel of it, musically. Sean’s really standing on his head with some of the bass fills on this one, especially in the middle section, but it’s all tasteful and fits perfectly, elevating the whole song. Simon finds interesting ways to fill the empty spaces on the drums. It gives a new dimension to our sound.
He’s right to give credit to the rhythm section on this one — bassist Sean Skillen and drummer Simon Paquette. They both do so much more than “keep time”, vitally adding to what makes the music dynamic and interesting in addition to making it one that hammers the pulse.
But Brad King deserves a lot of credit too, and not just because of the furious scalding intensity of his voice. In tandem with the other two, he makes the music sound sinister and grim at first, but then vibrantly alive and even brazenly anthemic afterward. There’s also a kind of swaggering, well-muscled strength in one of the riffs, and a sense of yearning in another chord progression, though at the end the song falls, like a person dropped to their knees, beleaguered by life’s heedless cruelties.
As we’ve tried to explain, there’s a lot more to be found within this album, no two songs exactly alike. Time to let it crack your radar screen, and to make that easier, we’ve included a full stream below.
The album was recorded by Sean Skillen at Exit Music Studio, and it was mastered by none other than Brad Boatright at Audiosiege. It’s available on Bandcamp, both on CD and as a “name your own price” digital download.
Killer album! Thanks for posting!