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Adversity; Woe - 83%

theBlackHull, September 30th, 2012

Did you ever buy one of those records based on a friend’s recommendation, although you can’t help yourself judging it by its cover? Well, this is my case with Adversity; Woe, and I’m glad I bought it anyway.

I came across Alaskan because of their affiliation with other Ottawa post metal / sludge bands. Let’s face it: many similar bands have arisen on the Ottawa metal scene in the last few years: Buried Inside, Goetia, Biipiigwan, Collider, etc. Not so far away, whether you are in Montreal or in Toronto, dozens of other bands can be added to that list. The genre established by Neurosis, Isis or Cult of Luna is now a saturated market, but I think Alaskan stands on top of the most recent bands food chain. The quality of their music and their dedication help the guys from Alaskan stand out of the crowd.

Adversity; Woe is the third release from this three-piece band. I haven’t heard the first effort, but the second one (The Weak and the Wounded EP) was very good. Adversity; Woe might not be their breakthrough album, but it’s definitely an album that will help them get more attention on the national and international scenes. It has the same heavy, Cult of Luna-esque dark mood, with almost simple guitar chords that create this loud wall of sound you expect from such a band. Alaskan went epic on this release: they added atmospheric passages and intro, in proportions that help blending the songs together and bringing the listener throughout the 39 minutes, 7-songs album, without any difficulty. The production is excellent; far better than what I came to expect from an indie band, and not over produced. On that level, they were helped by Topon Das (Fuck the Facts) and the collaboration pays off. For any three-piece band, there’s always a challenge about song structure, because of the absence of a lead guitar or additional instruments. Alaskan masters perfectly this, and while you can hear perfectly every instrument on the album, you don’t have the impression that something is missing. “Noises” were added here and there in the background, and this aspect of the production makes me want to go back to the album from time to time just for its “layers” quality.

The artwork of Adversity; Woe is the one thing that didn’t excite me. They put a lot of effort into it (two versions of the same album are available) and I get where they wanted to go. A drawing can help give an “old school” or plain artistic tone to an album, but there is also the danger to look “sketchy” (no pun intended). Adversity; Woe artwork is naive, and although I enjoy naive art, in this case it looks like the cover of a folk band.

Another thing that I mentioned previously is the musician’s dedication to their band. They are serious in their approach, and have one new release every year. Moreover, they have followed the steps of fellows Buried Inside and toured intensively abroad. Live, Alaskan delivers a solid performance, and although Adversity; Woe is pretty laid back, the live set lives to its promises.

While I agree that Alaskan might not be 100% original, I didn’t expect an experimental band either. The band knows how to compose an album that “feels” dark and heavy, and they can easily compare with other bands like Amen Ra. So listen to your friend: Adversity; Woe is without a doubt worth picking up.

- theBlackHull
Originally written for blog.metalmadeincanada.ca

Adversity; Woe - 89%

IxI_KILLING, July 9th, 2011

Whiplash – noun – 1. the whip of a lash. 2. an abrupt snapping motion or change of direction resembling the lash of a whip. 3. Also, whiplash injury. A neck injury caused by a sudden jerking backward, forward, or both, of the head. As miserable images of grief, sorrow and blame fill the air around me on this night, nothing has been keeping me company as well as Alaskans’ “Adversity; Woe”. Hailing from the one country that seems like it has no stress, Canada is the breeding ground for some of the best Atmospheric Sludge you’ll hear in a very, very long time. Suspended in the air for all to witness it’s dominating attitude, “Adversity; Woe” is the debut full-length from these leaders of the new world. It’s simple math, when a band releases a record of this caliber, you begin to wish that no more records were created, only because you want to spin it over and over and over again.

As I sit in a nearly pitch black room, only the laptop screen and the blue light off my subs giving me light, I sit and ponder on what I really want to do while I listen to this record. My mind relaxes in a state of confusion with no real escape. As the intro to the record, “Realisation”, hums it’s way into my speakers, the mass volume is something similar to Ahab except filled with much more toughness and fat. Once “Congonhas”, the second track on the record, starts blasting towards my face at a full on sprint, it hits me on what I should be doing while I let this record sink in. Normally I write out what a record is making me feel then chop it up in wordpad, add little things here and subtract certain lines to make it look presentable. So, what did “Adversity; Woe” have me doing? It had me daydreaming of marvelous oceans filled with ships that were indestructible and waves that hit peaks of two miles high. Think of it as this, the speakers that you have connected to your laptop or in your car, that’s where you live. As the bass lines shatter and shake your whole house, you can’t help but grab onto anything that’s valuable to you. The screams literally rip your house from the ground and launch it miles away, only for you to still be in the house, shaking in misery of what just happened.

The positive thing is that as much of this record is a huge storm, you will get about three tracks that are calm on your chest, easy to listen to and will drift you away into lullaby land as they play. The into track, “Realisation”, the third track “Disruption” and the sixth track “Interruption”, help you escape all of the thunder, phenomenal strikes of lightning and the winds that nearly destroyed your home board by board. By the time the storm is over, you start to slowly crawl out of your once beautiful, now destroyed and decaying home, you realize everything you owned is gone and you’ll never see it again. “Mecca”, the last track on the record, does an amazing job at comforting your body as its still in a state of shock but also slapping some sense into you to wake up and realize you still have life in your lungs.

The teacher has done his job and I really hope you took notes class because this lesson will never be taught again in a way or manner such as this. Alaskan is the one band that can rip your home from the earth and send you flying for miles upon miles. Letting you crash to the ground with no hope of survival but they still let you escape with life in your bruised and beaten lungs.

Originally written for: http://bloodorlove.domesticgenocide.com/