Highly touted by Willowtip as the second coming of Cynic and Pestilence, Australia’s Alarum has some mighty big expectations to fill with their progressive, tech infused metal. But whereas prior tech death attempt by label mates Carpharnaum floundered in overdone tech frivolity, and Necrophagist took the more brutal route of technical death metal, Eventuality actually has more in common with the likes of Watchtower, Atheist, Believer and even Rush and Dream Theater.

Only inching into technical death metal due to Willowtip’s publicity nudging, Alarum is actually far more of a progressive thrash metal act, with only brief outbursts of spastic technicality (‘Inertial Grind’, ‘Event Duality’) littering the otherwise lucid and often ethereal antics of the majority of the material. The progressive sheen is obviously a intricately played form of free form jazz fused, bass picking material, that rather than shuddering and jarring with attempted frenzied brutality, flows with a cerebral certainty and often cosmic, peaceful technicality. While most ‘tech’ metal tries to batter you in to submission with atonal overload, Alarum actually have then rare mix of technical, numbing brilliance and, memorable, catchy structures. Within the flow of the typically busy pacing, are actual riffs, structures and definable moments, Alarum just play them with an intellectual, complex flare indeed worthy of Cynic references.

The varied vocals of Mark Palfreyman range from a lightened Kelly Schaeffer-esque rasp, a disembodied echo, a typical toneless thrash shout, and a clean cosmic croon, which may put off death metal purists, but actually fits the cerebral music rather than attempt to force it awkwardly into a death metal pigeonhole. The album is smattered with brief instrumental interludes that seem to slide in perfectly amid the full songs and also give the members a chance to showcase their skills in a more individual light; ‘Lost Pleiad’, ‘Cygnus X-1′, ‘Boundless Intent: Part 1′ and ‘Audio Synthesis’ are well placed ambient breathers from the challenging dexterous material Alarum deliver. Opener ‘Velocity’ pretty much sums up Alarum’s intoxicating mix of dizzying complexity and haunting, spatial melodies. It’s short, succinct and chock full of time changes and blistering percussion. In fact, Alarum never seem to wander into drawn out tech meandering, as all of the songs on Eventuality range from one to four minutes, and impressively, each carries its own character.

Admittedly, I do not posses neither the musical knowledge nor the prose to adequately describe each brain numbing song, but needless to say every moment on Eventuality is a pristine exercise in balance; from the dreamlike atmospherics of ‘Remote Viewing’ to the incredible sonic convolutions of ‘Subject to Change’, the album commands continual attention in order to absorb its many intricacies, but unlike say Necrophagist-it’s never exhaustive. The ebb and flow of the songs are perfectly balanced to both astonish with skill and convey coherent, enjoyable songs; a mix that is rarely perfected.

Obviously, the musicianship is top notch as drummer Matt Racovalis’s Neil Peart admiration is a standout, but both guitarists Mark Evans and Scott Young divulge plenty of their own influences from Schuldiner to Petrucci with finger cramping accuracy. But great musicianship is often lost on overindulgent song writing (Watchtower’) as a showcase for individual talent. Not so with Alarum, as they all come together to form one nebulous ball of brilliance that displays their skill within the confines of great songs. If Theory In Practice were more placid-they would sound like Alarum. A must have for technical aficionados and a nice ‘highbrow’ addition to Willowtip’s normally vehement roster.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
December 14th, 2004


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