AWOOGA – Conduit

You think I’d have learned with Slugdge. That whole book/cover, band/band name thing is long established by now… So, let me start by saying loud and clear, judge Awooga by their band name maybe not at your peril, but most certainly at your immense loss. Because debut full-length Conduit (Rockosmos) is truly excellent ,and if every person that finds something of interest in the barrage of words I’m about to spew about them goes and checks them out, and passes on the name to a friend or two, we have a chance of getting this quite special new band the coverage they deserve.

So, who are they, and what to do they do? Well, Progressive Grunge is the clunky tag I keep coming back to, but this trio from Sheffield, England, certainly do much more than that. The names that serve as comparators that swirl around my brain are Headswim, Filter, Devin Townsend, Magma-era Gojira, Anathema and most of all, a smoother, less obtuse earthtone9. But these are just the reference points from my personal unheated pool. You will absolutely find more. Just know Conduit tantalisingly peels off a new layer with each listen, and a different hook implants itself each time each song unfurls.

From the moment ‘Temporal’ eddies in, with Tam Ali’s hypnotic chanting lulling you into a false sense of security, through to the latent, lush strains of the reflective coda, ‘Otherside’, Awooga wash your brain and cleanse your soul with a musical cocktail of melodic diversity and quality, touching on psych rock, stoner grooves, and progressive rock and metal, but above all dark, immersive melodies, veering from the infectious and poppy (‘Waterhole’) to the eleven minute masterpiece of ‘Witness’. In between ‘Blue Rose’ splices shimmering post-Rock and Doomy slabs, and ‘Bandit’ lurches into Tool territory, but without losing any of the already established identity; the clear voice of Ali the band’s Desmond Hume providing each song with a marker, a place to return to and stand out. Seemingly simple hooks, but so well crafted.

In a year that has seen Palm Reader, Conjurer, Boss Keloid, Rolo Tomassi, amongst plenty of others, all release stand out albums, Awooga deserve their place at the head table and the celebratory banquet of all that is good, rich, diverse, creatively vibrant and new coming from the British Isles this year. Conduit is a classy gem of an album that is well deserving of your attention. Right now. And again the next day. And again… over and over… over and over…

8.5/10

STEVE TOVEY