02. White Noise
04. Screaming Still
05. Poor Gloria
06. Haunted pt. I
08. Day of the Dead
12. Haunted pt. II
13. Haunted pt. III
The last few years have seen a slew of bands that focus on technical lines interacting with high-pitched vocals to create a soaring, emotional sound. Coheed and Cambria and Mandroid Echostar lead this style, blending catchy rock melodies and fearless progressive breakdowns to create infectious music that hooks you quickly and leaves you invested. Into this landscape erupts Alaya with their debut album, Thrones. The band announced the album in 2012, but it’s absolutely been worth the wait. Thrones is an engaging and mature album, marking a stellar beginning for these intriguing artists.
Alaya perfectly understand the power contained in the joining of bass-heavy breakdowns and provocative lead guitars. The result keeps you at the edge of your seat throughout. This is further amplified by their extremely unique and progressive song structure; whenever a song seems to take an obvious turn, something will come along and break it. Oriental samples, weird snippets of distorted keyboards, or simply a breakdown where one was not expected—all these contribute to making song progression unique and engaging. However, Alaya are not afraid to keep it simple as well, where it’s needed. Songs like ‘Inside’ or ‘Sleep’ are simply catchy, relying on well-founded riffs to hook the listener in. Where others might have felt self-conscious, Alaya fully embrace the attraction of such alluring tools and use them masterfully.
All of these traits would have made this album great. But for Alaya, it’s not enough. The 6th song on the album, ‘Haunted Part I’, shuffles the deck. Introducing one of the most haunting lines of the past years, it marks a shift in the album’s sound. Somewhere along the 20-minute mark, beginning with ‘Haunted’, Alaya seem to almost contract. The songs become more robust, with the kick drums suddenly dominating almost every movement. The balance tilts towards the breakdowns, making this section of the album all that heavier. All of this comes to a culmination in the excellent track ‘Paths’, undoubtedly the heaviest track on the album. Its double-bass laden ending is bombastic and overwhelming.
This is where most bands would end the record—on a high note, as they say.
Alaya are far from finished.
Instead, they return to the theme established in part one of ‘Haunted’ with parts two and three, plus the technically impressive ‘Entropy’. These tracks explore the earlier theme to its fullest, coupling it with intensely captivating riff work and the albums most emotional vocals. It’s here that Alaya prove they are not your run-of-the-mill band, taking the time to explore their own music to its fullest. They don’t require lengthy tracks or intricate musical trickery to do so, with only vision and sound to guide. The ending of the album is an embodiment of the whole creation; a mature theme, executed with powerful honesty, ultimately founded on fascinating riffs and high-reaching vocals. Armed with sincerity, spirit and their own unique structure, Alaya carry the listener from first chord to last. They let off only when they’ve played their fill, with the full intent of pulling you back in for another listen. And another. And another.
Alaya’s Thrones gets…