Atriarch: Forever the End

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Atriarch: Forever the End
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Atriarch: Forever the End
Ambience, Doom Metal
Seventh Rule Records
August 23rd, 2011
Release length: 37:10
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Atriarch is an crushing Ambient meets Stoner Rock group that hails from Portland. Signing to Seventh Rule records, the band has put together their debut full-length consisting of four songs, and a total run time of just over thirty seven minutes. With a truly crushing Doom-like atmosphere to the release, one can’t help but stand up and take notice of what Atriarch has to offer fans of bleak and dismal material. But, does their debut Forever the End really leave that much of an impact, or is much of the album just slow paced filler to extend the life of their songs?

Right off the bat, Forever the End may not seem the most unique or original, but it’s handled very well. Shades of bands like Neurosis and even Yob can be argued with this effort, and with each song that passes, more of an intriguing environment is established. The audio here is fantastic and has a little bit of a rawer quality to it which captures the heavier guitars and prominant bass, both weaving a soul crushing musical landscape against haunting and often mystical sounding or even ritualistic drumming that boom with echoing snares and thuds from the kicks, cymbols that crash more in the background to aid to the specific atmospheres being set. The vocals are also pushed further back in the mix with a heavy echo on them as well, ranging from moaning singing to high rhaspy screams that can often be blood curdeling, such as with “Shadows”, working very well with the smokey, myst-soaked sound the music gives off, and the moments that sound more like a slower interpretation of Horror films from the eighties.

Of course that’s not quite how the album starts off. While the audio quality and sound is the same, “Plague” starts off more as a mystical ritualistic kind of song, and not really something one might expect as an atmospheric introduction to a Horror film like “Shadows” seems to have. The environments of these two tracks are dramatically different, and that’s great, allowing the band to show off their talent to create truly chilling compositions, and that’s exactly what you get with “Plague”. The song slowly builds from a white noise bass sound that comes off a bit more mechanical, but continues into a crawling pace that hammers away with rhythmic drums and ceremonial-sounding clean vocals that feel more distant and unnerving. As the song progresses the guitar chords become a little more chaotic sounding, which works as the track continues to pick up towards it’s closing that is heavily based on guitars ringing out, as well as just heavy distortion before ending with that same mechanical sound that started the song, which helps to bring memories of such films like Alien and The Thing into mind as it bleeds into the darker, generally creepier track “Shadows”.

Of the four tracks though, it’s “Fracture” that really stands out. Again, this song has a different atmosphere to it, more of a Southern or Western feel to it (cowboys, not region based Western), but at the same time still retains that dark ritualistic sound and pace to it. But, that’s not what sticks out with the track. This song is the longest, clocked in at nearly fourteen and a half minutes, eating up a good chunk of the album’s time. Again, like “Plague” the song does build up from the start, and through the whole time of the track, it manages to keep the listener attentive. The only real gripe here is that the atmosphere established at the start does kind of get lost after a while, and it’s hard to really sit down and vision the atmosphere after a while once that Southern stand-off-like environment introduced to us begins to fade away in favor of more common slower Doom Metal without much of an actual atmosphere to it outside that ritualistic vocals. Eventually it leads into “Downfall”, the shortest song on here, but it bleeds in from the end of “Fracture” where there’s not really any atmosphere. This song’s more somber atmosphere works well to give a bit of a depressing vibe, but the heavily echoed clean singing vocals sound off with the music. This all changes back into a heavier crushing track with screaming vocals similar to “Shadows” once more at the half way point, but sadly it just doesn’t do much but kick things up a bit and make the track a little more interesting then it already was. Even at the end when the pace picks up and seems to go more towards a raw Black Metal inspiraction without jumping head first into that style for a brief period of time will you still feel about the same, though more shocked by the sudden transitionless jump in pace.

Forever the End makes for some solid, atmospherically-driven music. The sluggish pace and soul crushing heaviness of the music, mixed with the rawer production quality, really leaves you able to picture dark, creepy, even myst-filled visual landscapes through the tracks. However, half way through “Fracture”, such stimulating environments seem to just go away, and the rest of the album feels more like a traditional ritual-inspired Ambient effort that seems to not really know what direction it wants to go in. Despite that, even the remainder is solid and still worth checking out, though “Plague” and “Shadows” are definitely songs you simply must hear if you’re a fan of this brand of music. The album was also pressed as a vinyl release, and one can only imagine how these two songs, even the latter two, would sound when heard that way, and perhaps “Fracture”, as well as “Downfall” will just sound a lot better that way then on a compact disc or digital media. Either way, Atriarch‘s debut album Forever the End is a good album that shows the band’s talent nicely, and is well worth checking out at some point.

01. Plague – 7:23
02. Shadows – 9:24
03. Fracture – 14:24
04. Downfall – 5:59
Overall Score: 7.5/10

Digital review copy of this release provided by Seventh Rule Records.