ALKALOID Concoct Another Extreme Batch of Progressive Metal with “Clusterfuck”
ALKALOID are mad scientists. With each album, the extreme metal concocters have poked and prodded at mysterious phenomena both of this world and far beyond. They’ve written a song about what lies beneath the Antarctic crust, as well as an ongoing saga about a galactic civilization that ascends to a god-like-level of domination.
Now, after five years, Alkaloid are back with their third full-length and it’s got some of their most intricate, thought-provoking and batshit insane ideas yet. Numen is a 70-minute monolith of an album that doesn’t just colonize interstellar space with sentient fungi and cephalopods. No; it grabs the fabric of the universe and ties it into knots to break time and space themselves. The Bavarian band plays around with all kinds of genre experiments, effortlessly flipping death metal on its horned head with seductive flurries of jazz, flamenco, rock and gospel choirs.
But Alkaloid are still bonded together by their love of extreme metal. After all, they are a supergroup made up of long-serving members of Obscura, Dark Fortress, Triptykon and other genre heavyweights. “Clusterfuck” might have a clean and catchy chorus, but even the fiery, finger-tapped solo that squiggles loose around the four-minute mark is crushed like an ant between colliding moons.
Here’s what the band has to say about their new single: “It’s one of our shorter and more moderate tracks – maybe uncharacteristically so, once you see the whole album. But “Clusterfuck” still covers the classic Alkaloid spectrum between groove, hooks, brutality and complexity. The lyrics address the question of why we as a species should aspire to greatness at all, when we know that in all probability, we’re going to fail anyway”.
1. Qliphosis (07:48)
2. The Cambrian Explosion (03:58)
3. Clusterfuck (06:00) [WATCH HERE]
4. Shades of Shub-Niggurath (06:11)
5. A Fool’s Desire (08:10)
6. The Fungi From Yuggoth (06:06)
1. The Black Siren (Instrumental) (1:39)
2. Numen (Dyson VII) (7:03)
3. Recursion (Dyson VIII) (3:29)
4. The Folding (Dyson IX) (6:54)
5. Alpha Aur (13:23)
Total run time: 70:15
Progressive extreme metallers Alkaloid prepare to unfurl their new many-tentacled full-length, ‘Numen’ via Season of Mist. Featuring members of Triptykon, Obscura, Dark Fortress, and Obsidious, the Germany-based quartet of Morean (vocals, guitars, concepts), Hannes Grossmann (drums), Christian Münzner (guitars), and Linus Klausenitzer (bass) construct upon, expand away from, and journey between previous full-lengths The Malkuth Grimoire (2015) and Liquid Anatomy (2018) on Numen. In every respect, Alkaloid recommence the purposeful warp of various metallic genres they dimensionally blur. Tracks like the video single for “Clusterfuck,” “The Cambrian Explosion,” and “Numen” posit heavy cosmological/Lovecraftian theoretic themes on top of musically-adept songs that are accessible yet undeniably intricate.
“We’ve all been around the block a few times by now as metal musicians,” says songsmith Morean. “The feeling that we’ve outgrown the narrow niche of pure extreme metal was a main motivator to start this band in the first place, ten years ago. The ‘prog’ tag is handy for us because, per definition, it already encompasses a wider range of possible styles and influences we can get away with than any one specific metal genre. This means we could ensure from the beginning that we’ll always be able to write whatever we want, no matter how crazy our ideas become. The heart of this band is always the songwriting, and we all like complex and virtuosic music in all its diverse manifestations. However, we do share a love for death metal as the smallest common denominator in the band, and we wanted to make sure no one thinks that just because we include melodies, clean guitars, and influences from other genres, we’d automatically sacrifice the brutality and relentless esthetic of extreme metal.”
‘Numen’ was written during the pandemic, but it was planned long before the scourge of disease wracked humanity. As a result, the songwriting sessions were predictably not “in the room” but over the Internet after the band members had isolated and worked on their constituent parts. Demos flew back and forth. Then, Tunker left amicably for personal reasons. Alkaloid could’ve folded, but the close-knit group soldiered on. They intensely relied on the professionalism and dependability of the collective to drive ‘Numen’ to completion. The complications of the two years it took to sonically inscribe the album into aeonic vastness didn’t fragment the end result. Instead, the process accelerated Alkaloid’s lambent, eldritch explorations. “Clusterfuck,” “The Cambrian Explosion,” “Numen,” and “A Fool’s Desire” expertly bridge the past to the future, where Alkaloid’s originative, daedal storytelling captures (and holds hostage) the imagination.
The title, ‘Numen’, got its start at the dawning of Alkaloid. It’s a word that Morean fell in love with immediately, and he knew it had a place in his creative endeavors. Whereas The Malkuth Grimoire talked about combining existing elements into new structures, and Liquid Anatomy dealt with the creation of new elements, ‘Numen’ tries to look at the universe from a kind of meta-perspective from an imaginary god, as if the space that everything happens in was given a voice and a role as observer and shaper of everything that happens. In it, sentient panspermic mycelia are swathed in Lovecraftian nastiness—like Shub-Niggurath and the Fungi from Yuggoth—while the new Dyson chapters interpret the aspiration to reach divinity rather literally, reshaping the entire galaxy by manipulating spacetime itself. Desperate to escape their doom, the Cephalopods from previous songs have returned, too. ‘Numen’ is dense but not impenetrable. In fact, from the first moments of opener, “Qliphosis,” to the final contemplation of closer “Alpha Aur,” Alkaloid prove to be more charismatic than ever.
Morean – guitars, vocals
Christian Münzner – guitars
Linus Klausenitzer – bass
Hannes Grossmann – drums
Recording Studio: Mordor Sounds, Nürnberg, Germany.
Producer: Sara Robalo
Recording & mixing: Hannes Grossmann
Mastering: Alan Douches at West West Side Music studio in Hudson Valley, NY.
Adam Wallis, Cydney McQuillan-Grace, John Schaffer, Lauren Gill, Sara Robalo, Shannon Bedford
Additional choir tracks on “The Cambrian Explosion” and “Shades of Shub-Niggurath”
Former Alkaloid guitarist Danny Tunker contributed to “The Cambrian Explosion”
Artwork & photos: Christian Martin Weiss
Biography: Chris Dick
CD Digipak w/mediabook
Black Vinyl (Gatefold)
Coloured Vinyl (Gatefold)