Atrox - Contentum review
01. Sultry Air
03. Lizard Dance
04. Parta Rei
05. Gather In Me No More
07. Letters To Earth
10. What Crawls Underneath
It was late one night, and I heard a bit Contentum while tired and probably a bit drunk. What went through my head went sort of like this:
"Wow, here is some gothic doom metal that sounds different!"
"I am so sick of all these bands that sound the same!"
"It sounds good too! I need to figure out what it is!"
OK, so that was about a week ago, and now I have listened to a borrowed copy of the CD enough times to say what was right and wrong about my first impression:
What I was right about: this is indeed a gothic/doom album (leaning more towards gothic than towards doom). It is also something quite unique, mixing in a sort of singing that seems inspired by middle eastern folk music (or something). Atrox made an album which sounds very much unlike anything else I have ever heard. It is hard even to think of something to compare it to. Maybe Nightwish meets Swallow The Sun -- except on acid. It's almost strange enough to classify as experimental metal, but it retains enough gothic flavour that I will keep my first impression.
What I was wrong about: what I failed to notice in my drunken stupor is that it's pretty bad. The primary issue is that the vocals - with all their operatic/weird folkiness - never seem to really do anything, and are so high pitched that they become annoying and irritating really quickly. All the extra reverb and echoes don't help either. Normally this wouldn't be such an issue, but here the vocals are pretty much the only driving force in the music, with all other instruments forced back in the production to make sure the vocals take center stage.
The compositions are also pretty poor. With no real choruses to speak of, usually you would expect them to rely on an appropriate riffs or melodic backup. Unfortunately, the vocals are mostly just prolonged meandering vowels that don't seem to accomplish any purpose, while the instrumental melodies are almost an afterthought, with hardly any riffs worth noticing.
All in all, I don't think I would recommend this album to anyone. It all sounds an awful lot like they had a good idea, but it is so poorly executed that it is very hard to enjoy.
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