Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Evoken : Atra Mors

I love funeral doom might be my second favorite metal sub-genre after insert you adjective in front of black metal. I find funeral doom to be the perfect nap time music so I might take me a while to get through this before those molasses sweet chords hit me like narcolepsy. While they have been letting the flated fith ring since 1994, This new jersey band has the bar set high for them as Mournful Congregation has almost played every note worth playing in this realm and have weeded more morose power into every note than most bands can comprehend, what they didnt cover Esoteric and Loss have handled. Sure a band like Loss has expressed their adoration of Evoken, but they have brought fresh flowers to the funeral where Evoken has shown up to the wake with the same distortion pedals they were using in 1996.

What Evoken brings to the table sometimes falls closer to death metal if Obituary got really depressed and drove their tour bus into the ocean their ghosts might make music like this. The first song alone makes ample use of keyboards and varied shades of down trodden. It's not until the second song do I hear them really being able to capture the morose mannerisms of someone like Loss. There is something about what is going on that leaves the impression this is less introspective than Loss and there is more testosterone lurking under the murky waters of the jersey shore. This lessened glance inward slightly impedes their ability to craft the same sort of melodies their more cerebral peers weave. Evoken compensates for this by bringing a heavier loud dynamic which raises the death metal comparisons .

You might stop and ask why am I so bent on holding them up to be measured against others in this genre, and the answer is when I listen to music I ask what does this band have that is unique to all the others bands in my collection? If I can't answer that then what is the point have having albums by twelve different bands trying to sound like Candlemass , when I can just listen to the real deal? Or in Evoken's case Disembowlment.

If you like listening to varied versions of the same thing then , invest in some funeral doom and go slit your wrists Becuase it seems like a narrowed mind is one of the better places to start thinning the herd, not that glue sniffing isn't going to get you sooner or later.

By the time we are at the albums mid point " grim eloquence" the jury is still out in regards to this band, the first song grabbed me and the albums grip loosened from their. The dirge pace is plodding its way along but this song seems to rely on spacey sounds rather than having a clear direction to whose grave we are marching , not very eloquent.

Their clean guitar tones don't stray very far the normal range of metal guitar tones where the other bands I have mentioned tend to experiment more with sonic textures. It's safe to say these guys have to modes of operation the doody side and then escalating into a Disma like death sludge. They never build momentum exceeding what Obituary would consider mid tempo. If I had to wager I would imagine collectively the band listens to very little music out side of the realms of metal , where I know for a fact members of Loss listen to stuff like the cure and Christian death which give them a wider base of influences to pull from.

The closing number " into aphotic devastation" captures the gloomy ambiance I need from my Funeral doom right at the beginning. Their are paused sections of effected cleaner tone guitar and keyboards to break things up. Truth be told I think the keyboardist could have done a little more on this one some minor key melodies sliding around the guitar passages could work Becuase their is enough space for them at the general pace of the album lets chords ring out. The vocals don't step over everything even though they are a low death growl delivered with more power than the average funeral doom gurgle .

The big picture on this one is a mixed bag, mainly due to tunnel vision whe it comes to the places they draw from and if they took inspiration froma wider palate it would open their sound up more, but they tend to want to return to the sludgy death metal which might be where they feel most comfortable going. The opening and closing numbers I can say are solid start to finish, the two interludes pieces I'm not even counting as songs as they will be the first to be purged from the iPod. Overall I think even though the are death metal band flirting with funeral doom they keep and good balance of dynamics and it's an album ive enjoyed the repeat listens trying to figure out how to score this and where they fall and I think this one will keep growing on my as even "grim eloquence" starts to warm up to my ears, sure there are things Mournful Congregation might have done different or better but Evoken does the whole death metal thing better than most bands this side of Disma so I'll go ahead and give this album an 8 even if the test of time doesn't do it well it would only drop a point, as it well preformed and takes chances most doom death bands don't .


  1. I came across your review for this and Therion. Reviews are good, but at times the grammar and or spelling made them a bit frustrating to read, but good nonetheless.

    The review for the new Evoken album was odd. I'm not saying I know for a fact what they listen to, but from reading interviews on plenty of bands, Evoken being one of them, I do know they have mentioned they listen to an extreme amount of music outside of metal. I don't know if you have heard any of their older material, but what you're looking for in funeral doom can be found there. The album Quietus is considered by many to be the one of the best, if not the best album ever in the sub-genre. So, I cannot blame them for moving on and trying something different than what they have done in the past. Good review, but a bit bizarre.

    I say bizarre because Evoken have been around for 20 years. The bands you listed have said they listen to Evoken, and 2/3rds of the bands in the genre will tell you Evoken were an influence to them. What Disma are doing now, Evoken were writing in their own music in 1994.

    I'm a bit of a facts buff, so it drives me a bit crazy when I read reviews, articles or any subject when the facts are either wrong, or a bit skewed.

    1. I'll have to check out quietus, but was just making judgements based on this album as I only review a bands most recent release, I did go back a clarify a couple of thing as it might not have been clear I wasn't asking which came first the chicken or the egg here,as if that had been the case I would have brought up Disembowelment, and then gotten lost in e mirror with a mirror of the metal tree going back to Celtic frost , and black sabbath,
      I was referring to pushing the genre forward with new and inventive sounds where at times Evoken sounds like a case of you can't teach and old dog new tricks, if you are leading the pack then to remain relevant you need to stay a step ahead
      Thanks for the feedback

    2. Oh I'm typing from the touch screen of my iPad , so who knows kinds of mishaps are in this ill go back and do an edit when I return home, It's been awhile since Ive done my mission statement for new readers where I inform them this is more often than not just stream of consciousness rather than my more formal blogging. Or writing I do to pay the rent , so it's like wanting to be naked wheni get home rather than wearing the same grammar clothes I've had on all day