Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Atriarch : Ritual of Passing

Atriarch is one of my favorite new bands, I mentioned them in my death rock blog earlier in the year and they are really coming out of the coffin on their new album, though in my first few listens have not found "Ritual of Passing" to be as dark as their previous work. When it comes to bringing the darkness they have already set the bar pretty high for themselves as their music seeps from the shadows like the soundtrack so a horror movie so much so, that the past month while I have been working in a haunted house I have been using the first minute of of the song "Plague" as my background music to torture a nun to.

This full length kicks things off with "Parasite". This one has all the sleazy swank straight from 80s L.a., the sneer to the vocals seem to be more influenced by Snake of Voi Vod, particularly "Dimension Hatross" era, this gets no complaints from me. Things drop back down to a doom creep for a few bars and then the blasty kicks in. I have found their black metal leaning to be marginal in what they do and it seems more of a way here to cause the song to implode and bleed into the second song "Prayer"

When the band digs into the tombs and crawls around in the dirgey regions of what they do, it's preformed well with the needed drone, and really depends on my mood how receptive I am of it. It is not my favorite part of what they do and would get bored by an entire album of it. The song "Altars" following their descent into doom brings back a more death rock sound allowed to crescendo into metal that displays the conviction in the emotional connected invested in music, rather than just ...oh we have a quota of heavy to keep or we'll lose our metal cred.

They Flip the dynamics around on the song "Altruist" and while the verse drones at a slower pace the screamed vocals dance around it capturing a perfect blend of what they band does. One of those songs I would play if asked to introduce someone to the band. The blast exit resurfaces, but the vocals over it are at first a goth howl before going into the wretched tone and then they break down into a doom stroll.

While there is a certain old school Swans element to the last track subtitled lucifer speaks with death, it is more like performance art than a song so not something I would factor in when scoring then album as like most things along these lines could have just as easily been omitted from the album.

Vocalist Lenny Smith breaks out his best Rozz Williams for a moment on "Offerings" which aside from that section stays true to their blackened doom label. Not that its a bad thing but I wouldn't say holding to conventions makes for their best song writing. I know we have had some debate as to the band Evoken's influence on modern metal and i think it can be heard here. On a song like "Cursed" the doom stays intact but the goth vocals allow their morbid narration to wander. They more spectral guitar tone used here allows for more atmosphere. The dynamic outbursts later in the song are kept on a leash making the climax have a more apocalyptic pay off.

Overall this album sees growth in the band most notably as a song writer and Smith has really improved as a singer utilizing his voice above and beyond just going from harsh to moan, his vocal inflections reflect a passion for anguish. I found myself going back to the two track which had a much more traditional blackened doom slant and tried hammering them in my head to see if I didn't give them enough of a chance or if I just wasn't sold on the use of those dynamic. "Offerings" only took another listen to win me over,Even though I'm not sure if I'm sold on the default blasty at the songs second half which gets sloppy and keep the band form scoring a perfect ten as with "Prayer" the other song I was suspect of still drug a little for my ears, but the album has some really awesome moments that could have eclipsed this songs tedium, so I'll give this one a 9.5 as the marks it hits it really hammers.

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