Roundtable Review: A Tunnel to Eden by Alustrium

a1122127405_10Album: A Tunnel to Eden

Artist: Alustrium

Location: United States

Label: Self-Released

Genre: Progressive Death Metal

Release Date: July 24th, 2015

Songs: 11

Length: 1 hour 13 minutes

Studio Albums: An Absence of Clarity (2011)

WarpRider – A Tunnel to Eden is pummeling. It’s angry, progressive, and all-around brutal. However, those essentials can be too much of a good thing and in this case it is. Luckily, the album slows with the technically proficient instrumental Lucid Intervals…a great instrumental. The final song The Illusion of Choice III: Thanatos, has a nice break in the 13+ minute opus of brutality to wrap up the album. It would have been nice to hear these slower, more prog-influenced songs a bit earlier in the mix to give the album some balance along the way. By the time they came around, vertigo had set in from the 35 minutes/6 tracks prior to Lucid Intervals. Wander was nice, but it’s only 45 seconds. Decent filler, but the album returned too quickly to kicking my ass. In the end, Alustrium definitely boasts a coordinated attack on the senses through vicious cadences and high-energy progressive death metal. 3.5

RiffRaff – Tech-melo-deth, ya, I can roll with that.  With a heavy hand of brutality this record seems that it could just be an onslaught of aggression, and if Alustrium had just left it there, “A Tunnel to Eden” would have been perfectly serviceable for many.  However, not content to join the cavalcade of tech-deth bands circulating the metal scene this record injects a nice dose of melody into the mix as well as some nice proggy moments to boot.  And, in fact, “A Tunnel to Eden” is at its strongest when it’s less concerned with fucking our faces off with relentless blast beats and grinding guitars, though they do make up the bulk of the record.  It’s that a bit of balance and pacing go a long way in making those attacks that much more powerful.

Unfortunately I do have my gripes with the record that do really hinder my total enjoyment.  Namely the vocals.  These guys have three vocalists and if I hadn’t looked that up I would have never have known; they all just kind of blend together.  The performances are solid, they just lack personality and the nonstop onslaught of growls and screams don’t always shine like the underlying instrumentation.  They are also used too often as it seemed I had someone screaming in my ear 85% of the record.  I would have enjoyed it more if they just shut up left the rest of the band to speak for themselves outside of the proggy moments; let me enjoy that sick riff a few bars before overloading it.  Or even mixed in some variation with clean vocals which could also work well with the great melodies of the music.  This problem does alleviate itself on the back end of the record, but that doesn’t make it up for the front half.

“A Tunnel to Eden” is a solid effort and shows great potential if the band can iron out some kinks.  It’s worth picking up if you don’t mind a deluge of vocals because the music underneath is great. 3.0

Irmelinis – With a clear Gothenburg-influence (think tech-death version of Dark Tranquility), Alustrium starts off the album in an angry and metallic way showing no lack of energy, not even for a second. It’s quite pretentious and extremely well performed; full of brutal drama and isolated introspection. Standard ingredients for a good prog death album! The music is strictly earthy with a primal vibe, but without being muddy and dark. The longer it goes, the more progressive the sound becomes, and while the first half of the album feels too thin and shallow, even with three vocalists nothing’s really grabbing my ears. Fortunately the last six tracks offer much more interesting and varied compositions, which makes the whole album more memorable and raises my score for Alustrium. 3.5

ChristopherMammal – This album starts off beautifully and just keeps getting better. It’s as if the band gains creative momentum as the music flows. Alustrium is another affirmation for me that really good progressive death metal is as satisfying as any metal genre and any other type of music can be. “A Tunnel to Eden” is a treasure chest of great songs, all performed brilliantly.

The balance among the instruments and the vocals is ideal, with no element forcing dominance over the rest – this sometimes happens in bands when the blast beats reach high decibel levels or a singer tries to hog the show. Having two guitarists who also do back-up vocals has imbued the band with a fullness of sound and variety that fills me with warmth and joy. For all the grimness in the themes, the songs are magnificently melodious.

About that constantly increasing momentum… just when it seems the album has reached as high as it could stretch, along comes the closing, three-part “Illusion of Choice” suite, spanning 33 minutes. This rhapsodic suite alone is more than worth however much you pay for the 73-minute album. This one is a definite for my Best of 2015 list. 4.5

A Metal State of Mind Score – 3.6 out of 5



About RiffRaff

Just takin' it easy for all you sinners.

Posted on August 24, 2015, in Roundtable Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I don’t know where you guys heard this “3 vocalist” thing but they have one guy who does vocals, with the exception of ONE section on the 10th track where the guitarist sings about 6 words

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