ALARUM — Natural Causes (review)

ALARUM — Natural Causes album cover Album · 2011 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
"Natural Causes" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Australian progressive metal act Alarum. The album was released through Willowtip Records in October 2011. It´s the band´s first album since "Eventuality... (2004)", so "Natural Causes" has been a long time coming. I guess all good come to those who wait, because "Natural Causes" has certainly been worth the long wait.

The band pretty much continue the progressive death/thrash metal style they played on "Eventuality... (2004)", but it´s obvious that they have grown as songwriters in the intermediate years. The music is influenced by acts like Cynic and Pestilence ("Spheres (1993)" era). Excellent fusion tinged drumming, jazzy sections, a very busy and audible bass and riffs played with great technical skill. The vocals are not growling, instead frontman/bassist Mark Palfreyman sings in a harsh type thrashy singing style. He also sings clean vocals which remind me slightly of the flat and toneless vocals of Page Hamilton from Helmet. His vocal style took a bit of warming up to for me, but repeated listens have revealed that they suit the rest of the music well. The clean vocals provide the music with an alternative vibe, but it´s not the most dominant feature on the album.

The sound production is detailed and suits the music well. I could have wished for a bit more power and maybe a bit more "open" sound, but it´s not a big issue and I´m pretty sure this is exactly how the band want the album to sound, because "Eventuality... (2004)" had a somewhat similar sound. The sound has the effect on the music, that even the most harsh parts sound pleasant and almost calm. I guess sophisticated isn´t the worst term to use in this case.

"Natural Causes" has taken me a while to get into and I´d call it a grower. For me it´s been about accepting that the sound production isn´t based on power and aggression but rather on sophistication and detail, but once I´ve gotten past my initial not so positive reaction, "Natural Causes" has become quite an exciting listen. Alarum are certainly an act who have now found their own sound but haven´t stopped progressing in the proccess and I think that admirable. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.
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