Sunday, October 23, 2011

Atriarch - Forever The End

Atriarch
Forever The End
Seventh Rule Recordings

The groundswell of praise for Portland (Oregon, U.S.) outfit Atriarch has been slow and steady over the last couple of years, with many hailing the band as one of the best up and coming acts within the blackened/doom metal scene in some years. And with the four piece act (Comprising of ex-El Cerdo/Tree vocalist Lenny Smith, guitarist Brooks Blackhawk, ex-Graves At Sea bassist Nick Phit and ex-Get Hustle drummer Maxamillion Avalon) having signed to Seventh Rule Recordings for their debut full-length offering ‘Forever The End’, we can finally determine whether Atriarch can live up to the hype.
Comprising of four tracks, and running for a little over thirty-six minutes, it’s clear that ‘Forever The End’ is not the kind of album for those with short attention spans. Atriarch isn’t in any rush to get their point across, and it’s well and truly clear from the running length of the four songs presented here.
Musically, the blackened/doom metal tag given to the group’s sound gives the listener some idea of what to expect from the band’s compositions. But if you dig a little deeper, you can also find traces of some old school gothic influences dotted throughout the album as well (We’re talking Bauhaus and Christian Death rather than anything new here) through some of the atmospheric touches on guitar tones and the album’s overall dour and morbid vibe.
In terms of the songs themselves, ‘Plague’ opens up proceedings and sets the tone of the album with its slow tempo, smothering and suffocating mix of rumbling bass and drums, haunting guitar work and a rasping vocal performance from Smith that is part screaming and part agonised mourning moan. Although it’s hardly the most complimentary description of Atriarch’s sound, there’s a dark and foreboding feel to the band’s song writing and sound that definitely works here in a way that ensures that despite the simplistic nature of the song’s construction, it never overstays its welcome, or loses its cold and distant mood for a single moment.
From here, the formula doesn’t stray too far from what Atriarch laid down on the opener, with ‘Shadows’ sounding every bit as bleak and devoid of any real light, but stands apart with some cleaner vocals, a little extra rawness on the instrumental side of things and the hint of melody and gothic edge to the guitar riffs (And vocals too to some extent), while the epic fourteen minute ‘Fracture’ is the album’s obvious centrepiece, with the slow building introduction and its eventual move into a crushing doom metal direction proving to be one of the album’s definite highlights.
Finishing up the album is ‘Downfall’, which is not only the shortest track on the album, but also one of the more traditional doom/black metal based efforts as well. Although a little faster than what the rest of the album has to offer, the change of direction and vibe doesn’t take away from what was offered up previously, and instead showcases another side to the band’s overall sound.
‘Forever The End’ is not an easy listen, and one that will most likely appeal to those who enjoy doom metal in its purest form. But if you happen to be a doom metal fan, and prefer the darker and ‘devoid of light’ side of the genre, then you’ll find that Atriarch certainly delivers that in spades.

For more information on Atriarch, check out - http://www.myspace.com/atriarchmetal

© Justin Donnelly