(Wil Cifer reviews the new album by Oakland-based Alaric.)
In my assessment of what makes a band heavy, darkness is an integral component of the equation. Dialing in the gain and tuning lower are easy first steps toward this woeful abyss, but it really takes the ability to convey life experience stained by addiction, mental illness, and deep loss to capture convincing sonic shades.
This band from Oakland is more than convincing when it comes to diving into the shadows. They caught my ear when the whole hipster death rock revival came into my consciousness, though these guys are much rougher around their serrated edges than other bands that rode in on that wagon. Now five years later they have made a very welcome return with End of Mirrors thanks to Neurot Recordings.
All the things that have worked for these guys in the past are in place as they plow into the post-apocalyptic wasteland their music conjures. Their bassist provides varied levels of gloom-ridden melodies that are trod upon by the guitarist, a member of the sludge band Noothgrush. Some of the hypnotizing grooves here take multiple listens to fully sink in.