The group have burnt down Alaska, and Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, they have begun anew
A phoenix is a mythical creature, a bird who would burn itself, only to rise time and time again from the ashes to begin anew. The phoenix would be reborn, free to start over fresh and create any new life and path it desired. Understanding this, helps you to realize there could be no better title for Alazka‘s own rebirth. Formerly known as Burning Down Alaska, the group hailing from Germany caused a bit of a stir earlier this year posting “2012-2017” on their social media accounts, leading many to believe that this was the end of a band much to the chagrin of many a dedicated fans. Luckily this would not be the case.
The group was merely living their own version of the phoenix metaphor. It’s almost ironic that the word “burning” was in their former moniker, as that’s exactly what they did. They rose from the musical ashes, and had rebranded themselves as Alazka. With this name change came a signing to a new label (SharpTone Records), and a new direction in sound. Initially the group subscribed to a more melodic-hardcore sound, but now favored more on the melodic metalcore/melodic post-hardcore side. Perhaps all this rebirth was exactly what the band needed. Time changes all, and for the band this was where they were at. This is who they are now. And perhaps this is the change that needed to happen as Phoenix promises to be one of the greatest core albums of 2017.
“Ghost” was the third single released from the album, but the first full song. Beginning with hushed guitars, drumming, and clean vocalist Kassim Auale’s almost sultry like singing, it quickly kicks into a toe-tapping heavier melody. This song (and much of the entire album) is incredibly rhythmic, that you can’t help to even unknowingly tap a foot or finger, or even slightly nod your head along to the melodies. Harsh vocalist Tobias Rische seems to have put a ton of time and effort into perfectly honing his talents to perfectly match Alazka‘s new direction; heavy and intense screaming, yet not a seconds lack of emotion. At the few moments in leading up to the chorus the music and vocals almost become anthemic, fueling your body with a rush you feel throughout, helping to give you that true connection that music always hopes to make.
“Empty Throne” was the initial single released off of the upcoming album, and a perfect way of showing the world that things have changed. The song has a very radio-friendly, almost alternative rock feel to it, but with an added bite. An edge that shows you that regardless of potentially wanting to reach a broader audience with their new sound, Alazka has no intentions of leaving their heavy roots behind. bassist Julien Englisch has always been a well written lyricist, but has stepped up his game on this venture, and this song exemplifies that perfectly. You fully grasp the emotional concept of the song without it slapping you in the face with an over abundance of being too literal or lacking creativity.
“Everglow” is probably the most melodic, upbeat sounding song that’s also the softest on the record. Beginning with simple strums of the guitar, symphonic stringed instruments and a pace that almost invigorates the musical soul. From beginning to end this track has an amazing way of just putting a smile on your face, and truly making you feel the epitome of happy. The song is fun, joyful, and is an absolute standout track, which is difficult when the entire album could definitely be considered a masterpiece.
The interlude entitled “Ash” is a perfect lead into the title track, “Phoenix”. Sad and slow keys over string instrumentals provide a true feeling of melancholy. But from those ashes rises a song so epically powerful and triumphant. Beginning with a hopeful and promising guitar and slowly ramping it up into the verse, the song has an overall positive message regardless of lyrics that express a fear and struggle. Like the metaphor of the mythical creature, this song seems to tell the listener that no matter what strife you may face in life, there is always a way to fight past it. To reinvent yourself and become who you truly want to be, and to be happy all at once. It won’t be easy, but it’s always possible. Through poetic lyrics and upbeat elements to its overall sound, this track truly helps the listener to believe that the metaphor CAN be a reality.
Many could have seen this new direction coming. In February of 2016 Burning Down Alaska released at the time what seemed like a stand alone single with “Blossom”. Using certain avenues previously unused by the group were digital and symphonic elements. This also found them straying from their hardcore days, favoring a more post-hardcore sound, but perhaps the biggest change of all came with the addition of a clean vocalist, with Auale. A more than welcome touch with their new sound. The song was amazing, and thankfully other than the mixing, hasn’t seemed to have changed much on Phoenix.
Alazka have truly reinvented themselves with Phoenix. They have burnt down the band of old and recreated themselves in a new and wonderful fashion. This album is riddled with melody, emotion, and has just the right touch of heaviness that keeps your head banging in absolute musical bliss. Many bands have attempted to change their direction over the years, but very few if any, have done it in the perfect manner in which Alazka has. Instead of simply keeping their original name, yet altering their sound entirely, they chose to in a way start completely fresh almost as if they were a new band entirely. This route truly made it feel like an entirely new story and gives the listener a brand new outlook on the group. This is truly one of the best release of this year, and promises to excite anyone for the groups future.
The Breakdown | Album Review: Alazka – Phoenix
It’s a very hard thing to completely start from scratch and reinvent yourself as a band. Alazka shows though that with hard work, and a little blood sweat and tears, it’s entirely possible. With Phoenix, Alazka have a whole new sound that could only be described as musical perfection. The band’s future is as bright as the burning mythical creature.