Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Atriarch - An Unending Pathway (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 24/10/2014
Label: Relapse Records

‘An Unending Pathway’CD//LP//DD track listing:

1). Entropy
2). Collapse
3). Revenant
4). Bereavement
5). Rot
6). Allfather
7). Veil

Atriarch is:

Lenny | Vocals
Brooks | Guitars
Maxamillion | Drums
Joe | Bass


Atriarch is a living entity comprised of four parts, offering catharsis through sonic ritual. Our aim is to tear a hole in the veil that blinds us from our true selves." 

‘An Unending Pathway’, Atriarch's first release on Relapse Records, is a challenging, harrowing record. In just over forty minutes, the group lurches and reels along a path of death rock, psych doom, and blast-laden fury. "Entropy" starts things off slowly and deliberately -- ambient sounds, whispers, chants, and bassist Joe Wickstrom's unsettling melody line all make it clear that this is not your usual doom metal fare. The opening line of the song, "we have a tendency to perceive time as a straight line," is as prophetic as it is cryptic. This record is anything but straight forward. As the track continues to build with more complex guitar lines, the band launches into a chaotic round of blast beats and double-bass lines, accented by Lenny Smith's increasingly intense vocal deliveries. Suddenly the song ends, and there is a sense of uneasy relief as "Collapse" begins with its own dramatic crescendo. 

However, Atriarch avoids returning to the clean, sparse instrumentation and chants of the previous track; this is part of an intentional ebb and flow, a sort of doomed-out sine wave whose peaks and valleys are both narrowing and intensifying as the record progresses.  Admittedly, the shouts and chants may turn off those who prefer a more traditional sung or screamed vocal delivery, but there is something urgent, compelling, even manic, to Smith's proclamations. As those warnings give way to harsh, distorted screams, one cannot help but feel the walls closing in during the closing movement of "Collapse" before it gives way to the snare drum intro of "Revenant."

The song titles and lyrics outline the trajectory of the album, an exploration of mortality, death, and the nature of existence. This record is a thematic whole, in spite of (or because of) the unique moments of each song. From the atmosphere of tracks like "Entropy" and "Rot" to the furious opening of "Bereavement", Atriarch know when to pull back on their sonic assault and when to steamroll the listener. 

"We try to comprehend life without an end/ there’s no ego, there's no self in the end/ no face, no name/ you are not you/ you are the ending." With the closing lines of "Veil," the theme of nonlinearity is brought full circle. As the track fades out with the contrasting Tibetan-style throat chanting and reverb-drenched singing of Jessica Way (Worm Ouroboros), the ending is reminiscent of, yet miles away from, the calm opening moments of ‘An Unending Pathway’.

This is not an album for easy listening. Much like the story contained within the lyrics, the album itself is a non-traditional journey. For those willing to commit themselves, the result is an unsettling-yet-rewarding arrival at a glorious cosmic awareness.

Words by: Ben Hutcherson

You can pick up a digital copy here and a CD/LP copy here.

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