Nuclear Blast Records
Words by Greg Walker
Formed by guitarist Wes Hauch of Glass Casket and Faceless, Atlanta’s Alluvial have trudged the scene since 2017, blending their brand of Melodic Death/Sludge/Doom into something quite unique and fresh in a genre jam-packed with cloned outfits.
Alluvial established their pedigree almost immediately with their debut venture, the magnificent instrumental album The Deep Longing For Annihilation, a twisting and turning romp through swampy riffs and soaring solos. Adding ex-Suffocation vocalist Kevin Muller for follow-up Sarcoma, Alluvial has laid a clear path devoid of obstacles or hindrances in the pursuit of a more sinister outcome on new E.P. Death Is But A Door.
The four tracks are teeming with methodical twists and turns, lucid intricacies woven amongst the thickest of Sludge, all injected with an unpleasantness Alluvial have not quite managed to achieve before.
Enormous grooves couple with monumental throwdowns, stuttering chugs giving way to epic breakdowns, all topped with Muller’s David Vincent style vocals (think classic era Morbid Angel) to provide enough variation to prevent the attention from wandering. Alluvial’s approach is disguised as simple but effective, the haphazard transitions betraying the musicality in the compositions’ delicious complexities.
Saving the best for last, the final track Death Is But A Door is the highlight, an unexpected but welcome surprisingly atmospheric element with the cleaner vocal levitating the track. A reprieve of sorts from the “more brutal than brutal” approach found elsewhere on the E.P., but just as bleak.
Previous album Sarcoma’s Sleepers Become Giants has been tapped into to create something even more monstrous, but there’s an emotion to this one that isn’t apparent in the other tracks. Closing with a distant thunderstorm and rain, you’re almost beckoned to rest after this E.P.’s short but exhausting listen.
I want to mention the cover art for Death Is But A Door because it tugs at this old-school metalhead’s heartstrings – how many second-hand vinyl EPs, singles, and albums had that well-worn look with the visible record imprint through the sleeve? The vintage design and layout bring back warm memories of scouring old record store haunts back in the day and taking home some impulse buys to discover new lifelong favourites. Alluvial have managed to perfectly capture that contrast of vintage that they’ve built upon as opposed to the audaciously modern material they’ve conceived.
The darkness and brutality expected from Alluvial’s discography is definitely present, but built on to an extent that shows expansive growth and an intent of where the unit is headed. There’s a more sinister element to this material that isn’t apparent in their first two releases, a direction I’m keen to see Alluvial explore further in their next full-length album. On the strength of Death Is But A Door, their next full length will undoubtedly stand apart from the crowd and be well worth the wait.