Alda - A Distant Fire

19 Oct 2021 - Knut

Cascadian Black Metal | Eisenwald Records | Release date: 08 Oct 2021

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Alda has once again dipped the wand in the pond of Black Metal and bestowed the metal community with a release immersed in alluring and meditative sonic landscapes. Listening to this new album is like walking on soft wet moss in the forest at dusk on a clear autumn evening. However hard and harsh the music can sometimes be, it leaves you with a mellow and soft impression.

The band formed in 2007 and released their first album in 2009, their third in 2015 and has the same members as they started out with. They went on an European tour in 2018, came back home to the Cascadian nature in one piece and began composing this high quality album with six tracks that flows as one long harmonic praise to the nature that surrounds us and keep us alive and sane.

We begin at the end. That is, with the last track, ”A Distant Fire”. As I see it, this track is a culmination of the musical path Alda started when they released their first self-titled album in 2009, two years after forming the band. And it is also a showcase of how they have always incorporated acoustic instruments and clean vocals into their heavy sound. The track is set in motion by an acoustic guitar that is soon joined by the deep sounding cello which throughout the album has given the soundscape a fathomless resonance. A clean male vocal begins to sing and is joined by clean female vocals. The track changes tempo when the heavy tremolo guitar starts a melodic theme and is soon joined by bass, drums and heavy riffing guitar. We are only four minutes in, and during the next twelve minutes they develop the Black Metal-like soundscape to a delightful listening experience.

With the sweeping dynamics of the sound, this track explores bravely the possibilities that lies within the genre. There are many shifts, acoustic parts, the cello sometimes laying the groundwork and there is a short melodic choir over acoustic sonics. And the heavy, often soft, riffing guitar is ejecting melodies in your ear canal together with short solos from the solo guitar. The dynamic and energetic drumming drives the track forward. Around the eleven minutes mark the soundscape begins to swirl crescendo-like in a beautiful melody around harsh vocals. The track continues to swirl until the album closes with sound effects hovering over the cello and the track is ending, as the album began, with soft strumming acoustic guitar.

Of course, there is more to this album than just this track. There are five more tracks to be submerged in. Being a Cascadian band, Alda´s music is deeply connected with nature. The landscape painting by Craig Strother on the cover is a perfect illustration of the music this album pours out. The colors on the album cover are a metaphor of the genres the band absorbs into the music. After the acoustic intro with the cello on track three, ”Drawn Astray”, the build up with the heavy melodic riffing is bordering on classic Heavy Metal before a tempo shift leads into sonics that dip into Post Metal.

Track 4, ”Forlorn Peaks” is a fast driven piece bordering on Hard Rock as much as Heavy Metal. But the intriguing part is that the rhythm section and the harsh vocals never let you forget that this music comes from Black Metal. This is a great track to headbang to and the fast and glittering guitar solos just add to the multiple of genres the band manages to incorporate in each track.

The use of heavy riffing and melodic tremolo style guitars throughout the album makes this extremely engaging music. After the beautiful opening track ”First Light”, played only by acoustic guitar and viola, we are hurled into the tremolo and riff filled sonic landscape of ”Stonebreaker”. Here the heavy riffing and tremolo guitars dominate the sound. But this is also a versatile track where a downpour of melodic riffs is thrown at your eardrums. Never cold, always warm and welcoming and just when you expect more refreshing riffs, the music shifts into an acoustic end which introduce the acoustic start of the next track.

The influences the band draws from might come from early Ulver, Darkthrone, Drudkh and other Cascadian Black Metal bands, but they have always created their own distinct soundscape. When listening to the album one can almost hear that this music comes from a band whose members are the same today as it was in 2007. This album shows us brave musicians that explore the possibilities of Black Metal and approach it with fresh perspectives. We can hardly wish for more than that from a release, and we look forward to what the future brings from Alda.