Alaric Alaric

Alaric Alaric
Oakland, CA's Alaric foster a definitive insularity in today's metal scene. Drawing members from punk/metal mainstays Noothgrush, Dead & Gone, Cross Stitched Eyes and Enemies, this collective eschew the historical Bay Area thrash trappings for a surprising blend of the Cure-inspired goth rock (sans keyboards) and '80s dark wave (the precursor to Projekt Records' darkwave movement in the '90s). "Ugly Crowds" marries the foreboding atmosphere of Rush's "Witch Hunt" to the depressed vocal ululations of Syd Barrett. The excellent "Your God" could be from a souped-up metal version of A Flock of Seagulls and "Alone" boasts a choral chant of "come together" that immediately recalls a morose David Yow aping John Lennon. "Eyes" parallels a more stripped-down and urgent Killing Joke, while frontman Shane Baker's yelped "ee-ohs" recall a younger Sting in the cathartic "Animal." Guitarist Russ Kent's heavily modulated chords in both "Shadow of Life" and "Laughter of the Crows" are similar to a darker Joy Division or Course of Empire. In fact, the entire album, especially "Tribute," marches in lock-step alongside the post-punk, angular guitars of Killing Joke, creating a death-punk sound that's all their own. With fittingly creepy cover art by Judd Hawk, of doom act Laudanum, Alaric is 21st century no wave made by fans for fans, sure to top many best-of-the-year lists soon. (20 Buck Spin)