ALPHAVOX: Alphavox (Solar Lodge 2023)

Alphavox is a super band. They stand in the line of what This Mortal Coil were in the 80’s and the beginning of the 90’s, but under Solar Lodge’s  umbrella instead of the one 4AD holds. The combination of musicians as good (and diverse) as Artaud Seth (Merciful Nuns, Near Earth Orbit, Garden of Delight…), Ashley Dayour (The Devil & the Universe, Whispers in the Shadow, NEO, etc), Lars Kappeler (Sweet Ermengarde, October Burns Black…), Rev Gonz (Love Like Blood), Din-Tah Aeon (Aeon Sable), Aeleth Kaven (La Scaltra), John Wolf (Your Life on Hold), Mike York (Sweet Ermengarde, The Garden of Delight…) couldn’t offer anything inferior than Alphavox. To sum up, a great album filled with great songs. As it happened with the, quoted before, TMCoil, the precedence of the musicians can be clearly appreciated in the different tracks in the cd, as well as a patina produced by the mixture of styles (similar but yet different) that gives them something as immaterial as evident. Gothic cocktail, among other.

Alphavox is presented in a pretty mate black digipack, with an 8-page booklet that includes pretty much just the lyrics. Let’s move on to the musical, the important, the part you desire to read. The CD begins with Morning Star. A magnific cut of the most canonic, dark, dense gothic rock. Artaud’s voice (this track was written by him and Mr Kappeler) sometimes reciting and sometimes charged with energy and anger reinforces an excellent combination of guitars and basses that, supported, obviously, by a deliciously set pace, makes Morning Star the perfect beginning. All Star Aligned begins with a guitar that reminds of other less hackneyed styles due to constructions of this cut, written again by Kappeler and, in this case, by John Wolf in regards to the voice and I guess the lyrics too. Mr. Wolf’s powerful voice stands out, even though it’s a track that’s quite far from the usual. Musically, it seems to drink from the closest fountains to the arid meadows in the middle of western America, I can almost sense touches of “16 horsepoweresque”, if that exists. The main thing, is that it sounds fresh and that the production, as impeccable as always, reinforces the feeling of direction to where the rest of the gothic guitars stuff in the closer future. In The Rise, the one sang by the wonderful Aeleth Kaven and musically this piece reminds of precisely the last La Scaltra album (great one). Even thought, I must say it’s pretty hardened (a lot). The song is written by Wolf, Seth and Davour and is closer to metal than to the canonic goth. I said earlier that there was a lot of variety… Shadowplay however is written by Din-Tah Aeon and once again Aeleth as the lead singer. Of course, the metallic turns more progressive, the rhythm slows down quite a bit and the great Mrs Kaven and her whispers rock you until you get into a world that works in between the oneiric and reality, the ethereal and the nightmarish.

We’ve already talked about four songs, half the album, four songs that are all quite different from one another, but having in common that they’re amazing. Let’s have a look at the rest. Dark Satellite (written by Davour, sang by Wolf) is once again different. An initial striking, with reminiscences in my head of Tower of Strength by The Mission, the illusion disappears when YLoH’s hoarse voice comes in. The track evolves, transforming until bringing back the gothic in its whole dark darkness. Four and a half delicious minutes. Eldest of Things (co-written by Ashley Davour and Mike York, who also sings), reminds a lot (it’s probably the voice’s “fault”) to the main Whispers in the Shadow. Kind of logical on the other side. Does it stand out above the rest in regards to interpretative or compositional quality? Well, no, but it isn’t pale either. The keys in this one surround the guitars (and specially the basses) in the probably most precious bits of the whole album. Order Out of Chaos (co-written by Seth and Wolf and sang by the main Seth and Rey Gonz) is in the melodic line of the last Merciful Nuns or even NEO, especially in regard to the vocals. The track keeps hardening progressively without getting to the headbanging but with an intermittent guitar and a filtered voice that opens and shows another artist which is quite more than a style change can offer. And we get to the finale with Sleeping Prophet. The authors say once more that the voice in the last track belongs just to Artaud (more than a female chorist and some samplers). It’s the perfect dreamed finale for an album of this kind. A track of pure gothic rock with guitars and all the traces of its “ancestors”, the song is a bit too long to me, but even so it’s a great track and a wonderful closure that leaves you wanting more. As it should be.

Ultimately, if your question is if it’s possible for a group that reunites so much talent to work, (with its correspondent and inevitable ego), Alphavox is the answer.