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ALARUM

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • Australia


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Alarum biography
Despite their humble beginning as a death metal band, Alarum have carved themselves a niche in the prog scene by reviving the style of "jazz-metal" created by such groups as Cynic, Atheist and Pestilence in the early 90s. The band's original lineup assembled in 1992 and featured guitarist Mark Evans, drummer Matt Racovalis, bassist Lester Perry and vocalist Luke Morris. This lineup released the "Another World" demo and played live around the group's hometown of Melbourne. Half of this lineup would shift in 1995 as guitarist Scott Young and bassist Mark Palfreyman (who would also assume vocal duties) entered the band, leading to a drastic shift in musical direction. The group's first full-length release Fluid Motion was self-released in 1999 introducing their new, thrashy jazz-metal sound mirroring Atheist's love for spastic, rapid time changes. The more acclaimed follow-up Eventuality was completed in 2004 and released on Willowtip Records, followed by a US tour with Necrophagist, Cattle Decapitation, Arsis and Neuraxis.



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Discography:
Fluid Motion, studio album (1999)
Eventuality..., studio album (2004)

Alarum official website

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ALARUM Videos (YouTube and more)


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Buy ALARUM Music


Natural CausesNatural Causes
Willowtip Records 2011
Audio CD$5.37
$5.49 (used)
EventualityEventuality
Import
Earache UK 2008
Audio CD$6.99
$4.14 (used)
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ALARUM discography


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ALARUM top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.05 | 4 ratings
Fluid Motion
1999
4.17 | 10 ratings
Eventuality...
2004
3.96 | 9 ratings
Natural Causes
2011

ALARUM Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ALARUM Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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ALARUM Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

ALARUM Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Natural Causes by ALARUM album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.96 | 9 ratings

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Natural Causes
Alarum Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "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. Itīs the bandīs 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 itīs 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 itīs 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 itīs not a big issue and Iīm 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 isnīt the worst term to use in this case.

"Natural Causes" has taken me a while to get into and Iīd call it a grower. For me itīs been about accepting that the sound production isnīt based on power and aggression but rather on sophistication and detail, but once Iīve 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 havenīt stopped progressing in the proccess and I think that admirable. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

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 Fluid Motion by ALARUM album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.05 | 4 ratings

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Fluid Motion
Alarum Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Fluid Motion' - Alarum (6/10)

As is the case for many progressive death metal acts, Alarum began by playing a more straightforward brand of metal. With the debut 'Fluid Motion', this Australian jazz metal band performs a striking mix of thrash energy and death heaviness. The degree of complexity that would come with later work is not yet here, but as it stands, 'Fluid Motion' is a competent thrash-death crossover record.

Alarum sound readily influenced by the pioneers Death, in the sense that Death made their first strides by combining death metal and thrash together. For anyone mildly familiar with either genre, it's granted that 'Fluid Motion' will not appeal to many outside the metal community. This is largely due to the style, but also due to the impression that nothing in 'Fluid Motion' particularly stands out. Save for a slight flirtation with progressive jazz elements, Alarum's debut passes me as being competent, but little more, at least at this stage. Instrumentally, Alarum typically switches between straightforward thrash rhythms and contrasts it with more technically admirable passages, sometimes reminiscent of death metal, and other times sounding like they could be paying tribute to prog-era Voivod. The song 'Could This Be Real?' provides a bit of a refreshment, giving the listener a jazzy angle. There is a good variety in the vocals as well, with clean singing, Schuldiner-esque growls, and a marriage between the two, at times. Where 'Fluid Motion' begins to buckle is that none of these numerous elements ever excel. The clean vocals seem to run flat, the growls lack distinction, and as technically skilled as the musicianship is, there's nothing here that blows the competition out of the water.

In short, 'Fluid Motion' is a fairly ambitious, and ultimately decent output from a band who would go on to become one of the leading forces of jazz metal. It lacks the flow and tact of an excellent album, but there's nothing bad about this one at all.

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 Fluid Motion by ALARUM album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.05 | 4 ratings

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Fluid Motion
Alarum Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Fluid Motion" is the debut full-length studio album by Australian technical death/ thrash metal act Alarum. The album was released through Metal Warriors in 1999.

The music on the album is technical and thrashy death metal with a progressive edge. The music features both raw and clean vocals. The raw vocals by lead vocalist Mark Palfreyman remind me of Robert Flynnīs vocals (Machine Head). The clean vocal parts sound very much like Page Hamiltonīs (Helmet) vocal style to my ears. There are references to technical/progressive artists like Atheist, Cynic, Sadist and Pestilence but there are also more "regular" thrash metal influences in the music. The music is generally pretty intricate and technical without ever being technical for the sake of it.

The musicians are very solid but the sound production leaves a bit to be desired. Itīs decent but lacks a bit of power. And that just about covers my overall opinion of the album too. Itīs a decent technical/progressive death/thrash metal release, which is a relatively enjoyable listening experience but seldom reaches excellence. A 3 star (60%) rating is deserved.

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 Eventuality... by ALARUM album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.17 | 10 ratings

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Eventuality...
Alarum Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Alarum plays some really nice tech metal here on Eventuality. Fans of Atheist, Cynic and especially Spheres by Pestilence should pay attention here. Alarum is an australian band and this is actually not their debut album as they self financed their debut Fluid Motion from 1999. Itīs not in the archives which is a real shame. If you like this album you should really seek that one out too.

The music is aggressive and pretty technical and thrashy metal. The vocals from Mark Palfreyman are really aggressive but not death metal vocals. You can actually hear what he is singing. The choruses are typically sung with a clean voice. These reminds me of the vocal lines on Helmetīs In the Meantime, Iīm not sure why. This is the only thing those two bands have in common though. Alarum are clearly in the jazzy tech metal fold with the bands mentioned at the start of the review and Iīm sure fans of those bands will find intense pleasure in this album. I was quite shocked when I learned about this album myself. How could I have missed it, but I guess this wasnīt promoted very well.

The sound quality is pretty good, even though itīs a bit too computer recorded in my ears ( you figure it out).

This is a very recommendable album for fans of the genre and actually pretty innovative even though there are clear references to especially Pestilence and a band like Sadist. Iīll rate this 4 stars as it is an excellent addition to your prog metal collection. This band deserves more than they get. I just read a new album is in the making by the way.

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 Eventuality... by ALARUM album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.17 | 10 ratings

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Eventuality...
Alarum Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Yontar

5 stars since tech/prog thrash and death metal like this are one of my favorite genres i was glad to see a band like this come out recently. About two years ago i discovered these guys and i was extremely pleased. The bassist is nuts for the fact that he does vocals and plays this stuff at the same time, definitely reminded me of geddy type of player in a death metal band. My favorite thing about this album is that it REALLY sounds like cynic mixed with atheist, which are two of my favorite bands. The jazz influence is there and the music is played almost flawlessly. I loved this band from the moment i heard them.

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 Eventuality... by ALARUM album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.17 | 10 ratings

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Eventuality...
Alarum Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Metalhead28

4 stars This is one of the only bands in the metal scene today (At least that I'm familiar with) who take this approach to technical metal / jazz / fusion and execute it with such skill and precision, while simultaneously making a solid musical statement. This album immediately comes off as a throwback to the great older bands of this style, most notably Cynic, as you will hear plenty of the intricately woven interplay between the rhythm guitars and drums as well as the jazzy chording, clean passages and atmospheric textures you know so well. At the same time, there are enough differences in their approach to differentiate themselves from being a Cynic clone, or any other clone for that matter, and that will also be obvious upon first listen.

Virtuosity on every instrument is indeed in abundance. The only thing that strikes me as weak at certain points is the vocal approach. Most of the time relying on a strong middle of the road growl (not quite in death metal territory) with occasional clean vocals, at certain points they just leave me feeling that alot more emotion could have been poured into the performance. While the vocals are not bad, I just want to hear a little more because I think this album is so great that it deserves it.

The most impressive thing about this band is that they can play in this style without sounding forced or like they are trying too hard to be "tech" or heady. It sounds natural and confident. Every riff sounds perfectly in place and every passage is extremely satisfying. Even during the most pummeling "metal" moments, they retain a certain level of taste and restraint that keeps the album sounding like metal that is all together on a higher level, rather than a standard metal album with a few twists thrown in.

Obviously, fans of Cynic, Atheist, Pestilence, and even Death will find lots here to get excited about. Also those into the jazz/fusion side of things will have their interest piqued by this album. Check out the absolutely beautiful intro to "Remote Viewing" for proof of that. A big part of me views this as one of the great albums in technical metal history. A landmark of sorts. Perhaps in time it's more akward qualities (the vocals) will become endearing (much like Paul Masvidal's "robot" voice) and I will be able to catalog this album right alongside "Focus" among my top prog metal albums of all time.

I was tempted to give this album a 5, but since I can openly say it's not "perfect" in all respects I'd knock it down to a 4.5. But for any fans of the afore mentioned bands, consider it essential!

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