I would not normally be seen dead picking up one of these four word band title albums and giving it a listen, something just shouts out “core” at me and has me grimacing, so I am not sure what drew me to this one although it was probably a mixture of reasons. First off the cover is a bit in the face and as for the title perhaps I was looking for a bit of Ecstatic Trance just for a change. Then we come to the PR blurb and whoever wrote it deserves an award in creative writing as they likened this lot to bands as disparate as Can, King Crimson, Kraftwerk and Fela Kuti amongst others. I really wanted to hear a bit of these bands style amidst what was expected and to be honest am still searching for them but well, as I said the hyperbole certainly caught my attention.
Described by Metal Archives who they are obviously not too core for as metalcore / groove metal my first listening experience with ALOL (I like that abbreviation) was not an altogether bad one and as I span it further I had to admit to being gradually won over by the power of the riffs and bellows. The Philly trio have been around since 1999 and have already brought out four previous albums on Ferret Music, so I am kind of late to the party. They must have done something right though as now they have been picked up as part of the ever increasing Season Of Mist label for their first album in five years.
We start with Something Awful (which is actually the name of the track rather than…). I get knocked senseless by some hefty drum pounding and settle into that aforementioned groove which is the powerful hypnotic and standout feature of the group’s music. Vocals add to it, I can see that the singer may clutch his microphone in one hand with his other arm behind his back but the style fits the coruscating grating tumult of the instrumentation nicely. There is plenty of melody behind the jagged frenetic clamour and it certainly is a little bit trance like and psychedelic as the title suggests, to me somewhere between Gojira, The Young Gods, Jim Plotkin and Mastodon. The chunky riffs shred like a musical coleslaw over ‘Gnawing Lisp’ it buzzes and pulses in a style that I guess the youngsters out there are calling djent and the solo flailing around it all shimmers in convoluted glory. It is impossible not to worship the power of the riff. As we get onto some of the weird textures and sounds wrung out of the instruments on the driving grinding ‘Madness Is God’ I realise what I like here, this lot can really make their instruments sing!
There is a real progressive flow behind the likes of ‘Empty Form’ it ploughs along in free spin and uncoils around a massive central riff. You can imagine getting on a big empty stretch of road, blasting this out, putting your foot to the peddle and driving as fast and far as possible. The group do a good thing of allowing the music not to be outshone by the versatile technicality, the keep a leash on it all and make it the songs that are the focal point as they are sharply honed and not too overlong and narcissistic. Indeed the album is a relatively short one at 37 minutes and the unpretentious nature and compact nature of it is one of the defining factors that had it winning me over. That and of course the end cover version being one by Killing Joke. I have heard many covers of the group, some awful and some not bad at all. This is definitely in the latter category even if the vocalist here has no chance of out hollering Jaz with his ‘Asterooooooooid.’ Bellow.
All in all though ALOL certainly made a damn impressionable impact on me and I was glad to find myself caught in their trance.
(7/10 Pete Woods)