Alda
:Tahoma:


4.0
excellent

Review

by Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration USER (56 Reviews)
June 6th, 2011 | 79 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: hail mother nature m/

Alda used to be just another band involved in an increasingly stagnant Cascadian black metal scene. While their self-titled debut and their demo certainly were relatively enjoyable listens, they were monotonous and uninteresting. This mysterious act used to be undistinguished from the multitudes of similar collectives who adorned their covers with serene nature snapshots and sung about wind, evergreens, spirits, and mountains. However, Tahoma is a remarkable effort: one that came out of a band that no one expected anything truly worthy of note, yet somehow, Alda have managed to craft one of 2011's most powerful atmospheric black metal efforts to date.

One of Tahoma's most endearing aspects is the extent to which it improves on 2009's Alda. While the six tracks on the self-titled ranged from 4 to 6 minutes in length, Tahoma spans five tracks over 50 minutes, each varying in duration from an 8-minute acoustic piece to an epic 14-minute closer. Amazingly, with their lengthening of run times, Alda have actually created something infinitely more concise and to-the-point that that which came before it. Even in the longest and most meandering tremolo-picked sections and in the most self-indulgent acoustic folk passages, Alda keep the listener thoroughly enthralled. This may be due to the album's ability to seamlessly weave emotion and power into every moment of every riff, sculpting sings that not only appeal to the listener's "music sense," but to his or her spirit. This was the largest issue with Alda: while the songs were masterfully performed and a lack of ideas was not an overwhelming issue, Alda never provided any reason for the listener to remain captivated for more than 30 seconds.

Not only is Tahoma a record that showcases a tremendous maturation in songwriting ability for this Cascadian act, but it is also one that manages to incorporate the band's influences into their music much more seamlessly than they did into their previous efforts. The most obvious draw here is that on Panopticon. Lundr was not the first artist to meld purely acoustic folk passages into black metal, but he was the man who made it such a popular technique. Alda take this to the next level through respites from the album's frantic tremolo riffs in the form of soaring and beautiful sections of unrefined acoustic bliss, even choosing to write Shadow of the Mountain: a largely successful 8-minute journey of peaceful acoustic meandering serving as a breather before the epic 14-minute Wandering Spirit that follows. Another major influence present is the Explosions In the Sky-style post-rock sensibilities of Woods of Desolation. While Alda do not rely on repetitive strings of lush, often major-key chords like the aforementioned black metallers do, these moments seep in through the constant barrage of distortion throughout Tahoma. This is especially notable in Tearing of the Weave*: an absolutely magnificent track that, after assaulting the listener with unrelenting riffs for its first half, transitions into a peaceful folk section. This, in turn, leads to a sudden dwell of distortion, with hugely powerful major-key chords providing an epic finale to an epic song.

One would be forgiven if he or she were not convinced of Tahoma's merit by now. Folk passages and post-rock builds are anything but unheard of in the black metal acts of the Pacific Northwest: in fact, their use and abuse translate into an unrequited derision towards the bands by a sizable portion of the black metal community. This makes it exceedingly difficult to convey through writing exactly what Alda got right this time around. They surely did something right on their latest release, for how else could it be such a thoroughly engaging and engrossing album? It could be their songwriting prowess (something lacked by many of their contemporaries); it could be their restraint. The acoustic sections are not pretentious, the occasional clean vocals are not of questionable sexuality, and the nature-obsessed character of the collective is not overwhelmingly obnoxious. Like the mighty volcano that is its namesake, Tahoma is an epic journey. It is serene and beautiful one minute, and violent and explosive the moment your back is turned, but even in its most intense moments it conveys a sense of power and awe unmatched by any other existing natural forces (or Cascadian metal acts). But in the end, writing cannot accurately convey what Tahoma gets right. The only way to discover it is to pick this up for yourself and prepare to be wowed by one of 2011's strongest black metal efforts.

*There seems to be an issue here in that while some downloads and tracklistings contain only 4 tracks, others include a fifth called "Tearing of the Weave" between Adrift and Shadow of the Mountain. I cannot figure out why at this time, although I will let you all know if I find anything.



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user ratings (52)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
wyankeif1337
June 7th 2011


6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

the terrible summary is just a placeholder until i can think of something better... sorry

this is a seriously awesome album that might be bumped to a 4.5 in time: i really did not expect it to be this good. although keep in mind that this is exactly the sort of thing i go apeshit over, so take my opinions with a grain of salt

Irving
Staff Reviewer
June 7th 2011


7267 Comments


Alda used to be just another band involved in an increasingly stagnant.

C'mon wyankief1337 - you can do better than that!

Digging: U2 - Songs of Innocence

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
June 7th 2011


18461 Comments


Tahoma spans five tracks over 50 minutes


1. In the Wake of An Iron Mind
2. Adrift
3. Shadow of the Mountain
4. Wandering Spirit


Either the tracklist is wrong or youre wrong.

A friend told me to listen to these guys a while ago but i didn't.


Digging: Recondite - Caldera/DRGN 2

wyankeif1337
June 7th 2011


6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

@Irving: whoops, hehe...

and Hyperion, i've been noticing that too. however, in the download i have, there is a track called "Tearing of the Weave" between Adrift and Shadow. it's legit because i've seen it elsewhere, but i don't know why some links have it and some don't.

MoosechriS
June 7th 2011


5008 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cool review dude pos'd. Tried to buy this off eternal warfare the other day and they said theu wern't selling any tapes at the moment because their tape duplicator is broken.

wyankeif1337
June 7th 2011


6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

yeah, i saw that. i'll probably get it when they fix their shit, been on a bit of a tape binge recently.

rasputin
June 7th 2011


14544 Comments


might listen to this, their s/t was decent

MoosechriS
June 7th 2011


5008 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Been on a tape binge myself to be honest. Picked up all the black twilight stuff alond with a few other things. Northern cold productions from canada are pretty good for bm tapes, only problem is the postage costs. I like in the uk and they charge 10 dollars for p&p

wyankeif1337
June 7th 2011


6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

fuck it, 4.5

TheSpirit
June 7th 2011


17818 Comments


self-titled was okay but really generic so I doubt I'll check this out. good review though.

Digging: Emarosa - Versus

wyankeif1337
June 7th 2011


6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

this is way better than the s/t. if you have the time, it's really worth a listen.

rasputin
June 7th 2011


14544 Comments


i think you're just overrating it

Another major influence present is the Explosions In the Sky-style post-rock sensibilities of Woods of Desolation.


wut

wyankeif1337
June 7th 2011


6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

might be. i'll give it another couple days and see if i still like it as much as i do now.

zaruyache
June 7th 2011


6433 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Glad someone reviewed this, it's seriously some good stuff.

Digging: CHVRCHES - The Bones of What You Believe

virfirnus
June 9th 2011


17 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I find it odd that 'Tearing of the Weave' is online, given that it was supposed to be saved for the cd version. It may have come off of the 13 copies of the pre-official :tahoma: tape that was sold at the 2nd Wolftown benefit they played(which was rough cuts of the album), but the versions I've heard online sound like the final product. But yeah, I have to agree that most people, including some members of Alda themselves, don't give the self titled album the honor it's due. I've always felt that those were very strong songs that to a degree hold their own next to :tahoma:. I always argue that they should bring a few of those songs back to the live set, but whatever.

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
June 12th 2011


8818 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

going to check this out today :]

and yeah I have Tearing of the Weave.

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
June 12th 2011


8818 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

this is okay so far, on third track, can't help but find absolutely nothing special about it though

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
June 12th 2011


8818 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

yeah, sorry, no. :[

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2011


16388 Comments


Their s/t was alright, not entirely convinced this will be any better.

Digging: Spectral Lore - III

Relinquished
June 12th 2011


25040 Comments


you overrated it

probably won't check this out, didn't like the s/t



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