by MythofRock

For those who seek technical, adventurous, labyrinthine stuff in death metal, paying attention to Alluvial is advisable. Formed eight years ago in Portland, Oregon, by guitarist Wes Hauch, the band engage in a modern form of progressive death metal, drawing influences from core and djent territories (bands like Gojira, Killswitch Engage and Meshuggah are discoverable within their music).
In fact, Alluvial’s instrumental debut, “The Deep Longing for Annihilation”, showcased the virtuosity, expertise, and deep knowledge of core-ism of guitarists Hauch and Merrow. However, it was evident that the structures required the presence of a singer. Luckily, in 2021’s sophomore album, “Sarcoma”, Alluvial recruited Kevin Muller (known for his contribution to some of Suffocation’s live performances), and presented a more complete and expanded soundscape, full of bitterness and grimness, balancing between tech death’s aggression, melodicism, and atmospheric patterns.
This year, as part of their preparatory phase for an upcoming album, the band released an EP, partly revealing their intentions. “Death Is but a Door” revisits elements the band have used thus far, employing complex riffing structures infused with a pervasive essence of American core-ism and elaborate solos that pay homage to traditional heavy metal. Alluvial have made their sound heavier and darker, yet skillfully incorporate selective doses of melodic strands that intensify the greyish feelings of grimness and depression. “Bog Dweller” takes it even further: with repetitive, sharp riffs, occasional grooves, and peculiar drumming, it reveals a Meshugg-ish approach, based on details that create an impression of something larger or multiplied.
The initially sluggish and pessimistic “Fogbelt” evolves splendidly into technical patterns, seemingly rooted in the Eastern Coast. Meanwhile, the sophisticated and more aggressive “Area Code” vividly depicts Alluvial’s adventurous character, featuring a revered variability of tempo changes and a tone color befitting a decadent world. The band’s members elaborately unfold their abilities, immersing your ears in an abundance of musical information (and that’s remarkable, considering the EP’s duration). Fortunately, every detail remains clear, leaving no minor element unheard.
The closing, self-titled track is diversified and rather straightforward, glimpsing in the direction of “40 Stories”. Here, melodic themes and clean vocals, viewed through a grunge-like perspective, form an essence of melancholy and vastness, complementing Alluvial’s harsh style. Muller’s noticeable expressive abilities contribute crucially to a song that represents American modernism, although it falls short of the peculiarity and intricacy found in the afore-mentioned track.
“Death Is but a Door” is an interesting case of progressiveness in death/deathcore territories and will satisfy those who seek something difficult, unordinary, and demanding. On the contrary, listeners who prefer more direct stuff may (justifiably) pass by discreetly. It’s just an appetizer for Alluvial’s next work and should be viewed as such.

♦ 8/10

Alex Nikolaidis


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