Friday, October 6, 2017

Gothtober - Astor : "Atelier"

This project from German musician Mario Hartwig could be seen as romantically atmospheric metal as much as you could call it goth metal. It also depends on how you are defining "goth". The rise in goth metal came after "Bloody Kisses" , so there are no Sisters of Mercy influences. The vocals fluctuate between an Agalloch like rasp to a more dramatically crooned vocal, though it is not in your typical baritone. Some of the more metallic guitar parts are mixed behind he synths so the symphonic elements prevail and this is where the goth resides. "Iris" starts off with a more overt metal attack before the synths trumpet into a more elegant procession. When the baritone vocal does surface it is not a Peter Steele imitation , but a more operatic classical approach. It is very Germanic sounding. The transitions into some of the songs later movements can be slightly awkward.

"Orchid" has a more progressive metal ebb and flow, though the angrier sections have a more black metal feel. Hartwig admits to not holding fast to one metal sub-genre. The piano interlude in the song is performed by Florian Morbitz. The atmosphere gets a more space age touch at the beginning of  "Lavender". The songs has a lighter tone in it's more flowery approach to metal, similar to say Nightwish. So it could be gothic metal in the symphonic sense of the term. There is a wild array of vocal colors used on this album which at times can be it's strength. In the song's heavier moments it reminds me of older Tiamat despite the more black metal leanings of the vocals. No one is going to deny the artistry behind the guitar playing on "Naica" is seems a little excessive to have a 7 minute instrumental of acoustic guitar.

When it comes to a 13 minute song something tells me there is always fat that can be trimmed. He it's in some of the lingering atmospheric passages used to bridge sections of the song together. There is a lower vocal with a weird robotic effect on it that's the closest thing to goth. When it comes to this projects more progressive side I like the jazz undercurrents to "Onyx". It's a good balance of indulgence and tasteful restraint. Things get darker on the more death metal "Topaz" that switches between piano and crunching heaviness. "Yukon" starts off as a piano heavy power ballad. It gets more majestic in the symphonic sense , but heavy. I'll give this album an 8 for it's ambitious nature, it could stand to be a little darker in order to go along with my definition of gothic metal , but if you like the pirate shirt Nightwish kinda stuff it's probably up your alley.

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