Atramentus - Stygian review



Reviewer:
9.0

46 users:
7.91
Band: Atramentus
Album: Stygian
Release date: August 2020


01. Stygian I: From Tumultuous Heavens… (Descended Forth The Ceaseless Darkness)
02. Stygian II: In Ageless Slumber (As I Dream In The Doleful Embrace Of The Howling Black Winds)
03. Stygian III: Perennial Voyage (Across The Perpetual Planes Of Crying Frost & Steel-Eroding Blizzards)


Turns out the slow gurgling vocals of caverncore work just as well when slowed down on some funeral doom.

It was enough to gaze my eyes upon the Mariusz Lewandowski cover art to know that this one would be immense. It being released by 20 Buck Spin is also a good indicator of quality. But I still don't think I was prepared for funeral doom this icy. I knew I had to review it and after some additional spins I was already sold. And once I was already sold, just then did I find out that Atramentus are basically 3/4 of Chthe'ilist with another drummer and a keyboardist. So that's another thing, but it's not like I really needed any extra convincing. As much as I was already starting to feel that Lewandowski's impact was getting a bit stale, this comes around. Anyway back to the music.

Turns out that the music on Stygian was actually composed around 2012, but it was shelved, then recorded once a lineup was assembled around 2018, then shelved again, then released by the good lads over at 20 Buck Spin, so eight years later we finally get to hear something that likely would've been just as immense if it was released in its time, or maybe it needed to capitalize on Bell Witch revitalizing the genre. But something about the songs taking so long to finally come to life does make me feel that they'll also age like fine wine. Stygian follows the story of a knight that is granted immortality by God, only to witness the death of the Sun, and, by extension, of all life on Earth, and being immortal as he is, he has to wonder over the frozen lifeless planes unable to die. Pretty chilling once you think about it, but it's not like that's the first time God would make someone suffer for eternity just because.

And though I've had my quarrels with funeral doom at times, it often being too caught with trying to be overly long and overly slow to create a sense of atmosphere while forgetting to make it either immersive or engaging (in simpler words: it's boring); I can't deny that when it's done right, it's absolutely amazing. We've had some great funeral doom albums just this year, Drown, The Funeral Orchestra and Descend Into Despair come to mind, but there is something about Stygian that just feels grand. On the surface, there isn't much that is changed from the usual funeral doom formula: it's slow, it's crushing, it's depressing, the vocals are harsh, but sometimes not, there are periodic mellower sections. All the usual boxes. And yet, by God, this feels like aeons ahead of the average funeral doom.

For one, the pace isn't always that slow, or constantly glacial, and when it is glacial, you actually feel it being glacial in every sense of the word. And when the pace is picked up, it still stays pretty funeral doom-like instead of suddenly becoming some bludgeoning pause of doom death. But their mastery over pace isn't enough, they manage to somehow make the damn thing sound both minimalist (as most funeral doom is) and very well layered, with the synths especially playing a tremendous role in the immersiveness of the atmosphere. With the second of the three tracks being basically a bridge, obviously a mellow ambiental one, it's great that the sense of ambiance does seep into the other two songs.

And somehow, it also takes a few nods from epic doom and atmospheric black metal, especially in the choral-like synths that permeate the record and give it an even more grandiose feeling that the one it already had. Synths, pianos, vocals, actual guitar solos and those drums that they had to wait all those years for since they didn't want to compromise with some drum machine, they all pay off to create an extraordinary sound. And though you'd have to check the lyrics to make sure, the music alone gives it something that is so nearly impossible to achieve with a music album: a sense of world-building. And an ending that finally breaks free from the confinements of funeral doom, and that is worth the journey through the two gargantuan tracks (and a bridge), that I still can't believe only make up 45 minutes.

And then there's the vocals. Everything else apart from this was already making up every ingredient of a massive album, but the gurgly vocals feel so unusual and so fitting at the same time. Though they definitely fit perfectly in the doomy and dissonant death of Chthe'ilist, hearing them in this context tingles just outside of the uncanny valley, as in right where the enjoyment is at peak. Though I've heard them compared to Inquisition's, I can give a bit of credence to it, expect that this time around they're great and improve the music instead of the exact opposite. And when blended so masterfully with the backing vocals and the choirs, the impact is so much more immense.

I'd wait another eight years, just make the ending longer, please.



 



Written on 29.08.2020 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.


Comments

Comments: 6   [ 1 ignored ]   Visited by: 106 users
29.08.2020 - 15:58
Troy Killjoy
perfunctionist
Been looking forward to this for a while now; it's at the top of my list so will be getting around to it after work tonight.
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I have no memory of this place.
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29.08.2020 - 16:06
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Troy Killjoy on 29.08.2020 at 15:58

Been looking forward to this for a while now; it's at the top of my list so will be getting around to it after work tonight.

One of the few albums that has been abusing my replay button. It being 45 min long makes it easier.
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Father: How can a picture of a field be sad without a sad person looking sad in the field?
Young Woman: That's an interesting problem. Yeah, I struggle with that.
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29.08.2020 - 22:58
UnknownCheese
Phil Tougas strikes back with more dull death metal and lead guitar that sounds like a keyboard.
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29.08.2020 - 23:01
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by UnknownCheese on 29.08.2020 at 22:58

Phil Tougas strikes back with more dull death metal and lead guitar that sounds like a keyboard.

No
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Father: How can a picture of a field be sad without a sad person looking sad in the field?
Young Woman: That's an interesting problem. Yeah, I struggle with that.
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30.08.2020 - 14:49
Starvynth
i c deaf people
I'm so glad you've reviewed this, Radu, it seriously needs more attention.

Quote:
And though I've had my quarrels with funeral doom at times, it often being too caught with trying to be overly long and overly slow to create a sense of atmosphere while forgetting to make it either immersive or engaging (in simpler words: it's boring); I can't deny that when it's done right, it's absolutely amazing.[...]
And yet, by God, this feels like aeons ahead of the average funeral doom.

This pretty much sums it up for me.
In theory, funeral doom is one of my most favorite sub-genres. Yet, I usually don't come back to any of the genre's reference works too often. I have to be in the right mood to fully enjoy funeral doom and if I am, it doesn't really matter which particular album I'm listening to. I will usually end up with Tyranny's Tides Of Awakening, I will only spin it once and then I'm done for the next couple of months.

But my first encounter with Stygian was totally different, I just couldn't get enough of it. The purchse of a digital copy was obligatory, but I also ordered the CD - my first physical copy of a funeral doom album since Aeternum Vale from 2006. That's how much I love it.

Your review is spot-on, thanks a bunch!
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signatures = SPAM
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30.08.2020 - 21:36
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by Troy Killjoy on 29.08.2020 at 15:58

Been looking forward to this for a while now; it's at the top of my list so will be getting around to it after work tonight.

Youre canadian, now you can make videa review when winter swallows autumn.

We dont know when Mother's north will give is first snow, but we all know in mid november sun wont Shine more then 2h per day, i save this album to then. Dark ar 1300 snow, csndle lights, good Stout and funeral doom. I will wait when that time will come.
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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