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Monday, January 27, 2014

Album Review: Alaskan - Erosion, Despair, Loss

Album Score: A-
The mountain stands before me: glaciers wracked with black crevasses extend for miles before windswept ridges jut upwards at jagged angles. Something inside tells me to go back.“A sacrifice!” scream the violins, shrill strings that rise and writhe like harbingers of doom.The storm descends; I forge ever onwards. My footsteps ring against the frozen earth, faster and faster, into the mouth of the sky. An avalanche – the drums, thundering; resonant and sharp, an unstoppable force to carry me to the foot of the behemoth. I pass the point of no return; the falling snow is a deafening blanket. I look around and find nothing familiar but the sound of my own voice as it is carries down the slopes to disappear into some godforsaken chasm. “Beg for forgiveness!” the mountain demands, its voice harsh, merciless.Why undertake this journey? Why here, of all places, when I could be in sunny fields or sandy shores?

I turn my gaze upward and clench my jaw. The wind howls with derision. A distant pounding, the beat ever-shifting, mocking my quickening pulse. The violin returns, somewhere in the distance, obscured by seismic guitar chords that rattle my bones. My heart races, adrenaline pushing me upward. The air clears, and the turbulent thrumming gives way to a clarity; a hollowness. On the brink of oblivion, I’ve reached reach a plateau. The storm has passed – or am I in the eye? Serene acoustic guitar echoes up the canyon as I stop to gaze in wonder at the resplendence partially buried beneath my feet. I feel hot blood coursing through my veins, bringing me strength in the face of this trial. From peak to peak the cymbals ring, claustrophobic even in this immense space. A drumroll, like a vast approaching army. This is not over. “My mind is focused on the task at hand,” I insist. Onward.

The heavy snow is becoming too much to bear. The blizzard around me swirls and envelops, blocking out the sun, an icy Inferno. The mountain roars, double-bass surging from its icy caverns and washing over me. I gasp for air. “Your cries of shame fall on deaf ears,” it growls. Suddenly, light: the clouds break. A miracle? A sign? I grope blindly, landing a handhold. One meter at a time. The summit is near. My soul lifts at the sight, those shimmering strings returning like the voices of angels – I must be close enough to heaven to hear them. Their chorus rises in the face of the howling behemoth beneath me, lifting me up through the storm. All at once, the sounds become one, as if the gods themselves have taken up my cause, and I soar towards the summit. A tremendous guitar riff, angular and with unbridled energy, swells up the mountainside, the antithesis of that raging storm, and I fall bodily upon the summit. My lungs ache, blood is spackled across my clothing; my mind whirls and my eyes see more shadows than light, but still I rise. The guitar returns, mournful, defeated… Upon this desolate precipice, so far from home and sunlit shores, I am more alive than ever before. I have slain the beast. I lie broken; victorious.

Eternal.

Alaskan – Despair, Erosion, Loss.

Track List:

1. Sacrifice
2. Fiend
3. Inferno
4. Submerged
5. Guiltless
6. Eternal

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