A lot has happened to German band Alazka before the release of their debut album. From line-up changes to a name change (they used to be called Burning Down Alaska) to making it big enough to headline international shows – it has certainly been an action packed first few years in the life of Alazka. Now comes their debut album, Phoenix, which is sure to be an album that is going to divide metal fans worldwide.
The sound that Alazka manages to create on Phoenix is going to be a sound that you really love or you really hate. When the dark, haunting opening instrumental, “Echoes” fades away, we get “Ghost”; the track that will introduce many people to Alazka’s unique sound for the first time. Their sound is a weird mixture of a hint of electronica at times through to a pop punk style that is very clear to hear on “Empty Throne” and “The Witness.” The mixture of genres comes from the vocals provided by Tobias Rische and Kassim Auale – at times, you get the clean vocals that sound very pop punk, and then at other times you get the more aggressive style of screamo vocals, like on “Everglow.”
While the mixture of vocals doesn’t really jar throughout the album on some tracks, it doesn’t meld together as well as it does on the track that the album takes its name from – “Phoenix.” That same right mix re-appears on “Legacy” where the clean vocals at times feel like they could have been lifted from a 1980s track… although the final strains of “Legacy” may see some true metal fans head for the hills as the track takes a turn towards a real gospel feel.
While Phoenix is heavily an album slanted towards the vocal performance, the musicians do get a chance to shine from time to time. The dual guitar work of Marvin Bruckwilder and Dario Sanchez shines through on “Everything” which contains an amazing guitar solo, and of course, “Hearts Of Gold”; which sees the guitars remain smooth throughout despite the vocals being some of the most brutal on the album.
Alazka is an acquired taste – maybe too pop-punk for a lot of true metal fans and maybe a little too screamo for true pop-punk fans – but if you are willing to take a chance, you certainly won’t be disappointed with Phoenix.