More than anything, our pain connects us. Hardship binds us as humans in one shared experience, bringing us closer together. Alluvial examine this phenomenon on their second full-length album, Sarcoma [Nuclear Blast]. The critically acclaimed Atlanta-based quartet—Kevin Muller [vocals], Wes Hauch [guitar, vocals], Tim Walker [bass], and Matt Paulazzo [drums]—plunge into a whirlwind of neck-snapping polyrhythmic riffs, a barrage of double bass, and a dynamic avalanche of screams. After amassing over 2 million total streams independently and receiving the endorsement of MetalSucks, No Clean Singing, and more, the group evolve into a focused and fiery force in 2021 with their latest body of work.
“Sarcoma is a type of cancer that grows from connective tissue in the body,” reveals Wes. “At the end of working on everything, Kevin pinpointed that each song on the record was about the different perils that happen at the hand of one man to another. These perils live in our connections to one another, so Sarcoma became an apt title.”
In 2017, Alluvial initially roared to life on their debut LP, The Deep Longing for Annihilation. “Colony” notably gathered 678K Spotify streams—unprecedented for instrumental extreme metal. Building a fan base, the group toured alongside Animals As Leaders and Veil of Maya.
On the heels of this tour, Wes traded Los Angeles for Atlanta.
“In all honesty, it was an escape,” he admits. “I knew some of my struggles would never leave me, but I felt like I’d have a better chance to reset if I got out of California. The perils of taking refuge in a bottle or the near occupational hazard of drugs in L.A. had hollowed me out and exacerbated my woes. Winston Churchill famously called depression ‘the Black Dog’. The rut with drugs and booze turns the black dog, a longtime bedfellow, into the ruler of your vessel. I’d estimate that the music for Sarcoma started
there. As strange and vulnerable as it feels to explain that, it would be dishonest to say otherwise.”
As he began to write at home, he took notice of Kevin due to his time in Suffocation. After hearing his vocals on a demo, everything simply clicked, and Kevin joined the band. Fast brothers, it fulfilled a long-term goal. “The Deep Longing for Annihilation was supposed to have vocals, but I couldn’t find the right guy,” he adds. “Some people possess a rare inability to doubt themselves. Kevin can marry that into performances. The day I heard his vocals over the Sarcoma demos was a special one. We’ve become brothers.”
After writing and producing demos at home, Alluvial cut guitars, bass, and vocals with engineer John Douglass in Atlanta. The opener “Ulysses” begins with warm guitar echoes before building towards an ominous crescendo. It quickly crumbles under the weight of a thrash riff and brain-rattling growl.
“I was always in trouble in my small hometown,” he says. “After going to a county jail, I joined the military and took orders as an Equipment Operator bound for the US Naval Mobile Construction Battalions. The enlisted side of the military are all misfits of one kind or another. Because of this, it’s really a continuation of high school. The military continued raising us, for better or worse. In 2005, I deployed to Iraq and convoyed throughout Baghdad for seven months. If you were in Iraq from 03 to 08, it was generally pretty bad. Because of that, I wouldn’t call my experience in Iraq “unique”, it was just a hot time over there. If you convoyed, you were gonna get shot at, and you were gonna deal with IED’s. If you were in a camp, you were gonna get mortared. If you were infantry and you were kicking down doors, god bless you, you were gonna have it the worst out of anyone. ‘Ulysses’ is a glossary of my hindsight on that experience.”
An airy clean intro ignites a bludgeoning groove on “40 Stories,” which remains “loosely based on the story of Conrad Roy who committed suicide at the coercion of his girlfriend.” Maintaining elements of power and conviction throughout, “Sleepers Become Giants” creeps along on whispers and emotionally charged guitar before another cathartic chorus about a combination of depression and the moment “you become a giant, wake up, and do what you’re supposed to be.”
In the end, Alluvial welcome audiences into their world.
“My favorite records have always been places where I could crawl inside and hang out,” he leaves off. “They gave me a way of looking at things and put me in a helpful state of mind, whether I knew it or not. The goal with this album is to hopefully provide a similar feeling.”