Evoken - Atra Mors
Few bands in the death/funeral doom genre really know how to grasp the kind of songwriting you need to excel in the genre. The use of deathly intoxicating almost claustrophobic atmospherics and progressive tendencies are a must in order to keep the listener enthralled in your music. Especially for a genre that's known for being as extremely slow as this. Evoken knows that and has continually crushed listeners with their oppressive dirges for the past two decades. Being one of the instigators of the genre's beginnings, along with other iconic bands such as dISEMBOWELMENT, Thergothon, and Mournful Congregation. Their mashing of savage old school death metal and the dark melancholic gothic doom of early Peaceville was never really perfected until now. Their fifth full-length and Profound Lore's official 100th release "Atra Mors" is a stunning apocalyptic monument of funeral doom and a guaranteed future genre staple. A release that leaves you completely speechless. Dripping with unheard of amounts gut-wrenching despair and vehemence, it's the stuff only true nightmares are made of. The six songs plus two interludes that comprise this glorious statement of death and decay, are a battering ram to your soul and psyche. Setting a standard for the abysmal depths of grief and emotions an album can make you feel.
After hitting play your greeted to the ominous gusts of wind, eerie synthesizers, and tribal war-like drums of the opening title track. Setting the stage early on for the album, bearing all the hallmarks of classic Evoken. John Paradiso's low guttural growls, the mournful and sometimes downright nauseating lead guitars, and the sighs of their ever present keyboards. All floating atop massive amounts of glacially slow doom riffs and huge bass lines. That in turn seemingly give way to brutal death metal moments at any given time. Feeling really no noticeable transition yet flowing smoothly these parts hit you unrelentingly if you're not hearing too closely. Also to note is the huge step into really beautifully tranquil melodic parts that Evoken had not really done before. Songs like "Decent Into Chaotic Dream" and "An Extrinsic Divide" show greater variation than normal by adding these gracefully airy yet always fleeting moments of light fulness. Letting themselves have more breathing room and adding to the dark undercurrents that abound in their music. Making the manic weight of their insidious atmospheres even more hefty than before once they're over and your sucked back into the void. Though listening to the album is a draining and exhaustive experience it's one that is entirely rewarding. Making you want to relive the moments of pure sorrow and grandeur that flourish inside. Each song being so remarkably epic in feel and scope, there is not ounce of filler to be had. The crown jewel of "Atra Mors" though and Evoken's entire career though is the closing masterpiece "Into Aphotic Devestation". Starting of with an absolutely sinister violin and guitar based intro that will you chill you to your very core. It's a slow burning spirit crushing example of how expressive music can be. Building to a jaw dropping climax that features anguish ridden leads and explosive double bass drumming. Over what has to be some of the most tortured vocals I've ever heard on a metal release. It's a rare moment in music in general, where what you just heard will always be with you as you an never forget it.
So with all of this in my mind if you're into doom metal in general not just funeral doom this is the must buy release of the year. I've had the album for a month and I'm still playing it daily, and hearing new things in it. This will be the next album the funeral death/doom crowd can place beside "Transcendence Into The Peripheral", "Into Darkness", "Works Will Come Undone", "Stream From The Heavens", and "The Monad of Creation" mark my words. No other album being released this year will top this for me that I'm almost certain. I finally found the desolate soundtrack needed for when the world goes up in flames and ruin, if that happens in my lifetime.