Review Summary: If you like Death metal, but want it served to you with a side of Doom, Ataraxie are the band for you. A great combination of Death metal and Funeral doom.
Doom metal requires a lot of patience. A lot of it is painstakingly boring, and it takes a good band to rise above the rest of the monotonous music and make an album which is original and exciting. And exciting doom metal is rarely available, as ‘exciting’ does not fit very well with the whole idea of doom metal. Ataraxie’s Slow Transcending Agony
however, manages to be slow and brutal, yet isn’t dull at all. Rather, it lurches along at a decent speed, pounding your skull with immense riffs and strong beats. There aren’t really any obvious attempts at making an atmosphere, instead the album sounds incredibly heavy. It keeps going, and doesn’t let up, other than the occasional dark and mellow passage. And I love the way they have incorporated the mellow and tranquil sections in the album; they are almost like the ‘eye before the storm’.
The first thing to notice is that Ataraxie have gone back to the basics. Rather than making an atmosphere with keyboards, synth, orchestra or various other techniques, they maintain the mood of the album through variations in the music itself. Rather than repeating the same riff over and over again with changes in the background music, Ataraxie play very progressively, changing the shape of the music according to the emotion that they’re trying to convey. The one thing I liked was that they did not stick to the slow pace throughout the entire album. There are moments when the music reaches a climax and picks up the pace, furiously stepping up the rhythm. An example is the ending of the second track, Funeral Hymn. So yes, this is very heavy and guitar-based doom metal, sort of a funeral doom version of Swallow the Sun.
The technicality of the album is relative to doom metal; however, they up the ante in the more climatic moments. Other than that, the drumming and guitar is reasonably simple, but very effective. It was the variation in the rhythm that kept the album interesting. Some of the doom metal I’ve listened to just uses the same riffs and melodies over and over again, which just gets annoying after 10+ minutes. Of the 5 songs onSlow Transcending Agony
, 4 of them are longer than ten minutes (the one that isn’t is the intro), and despite the length, holds onto your interest. Due to its progressive nature, I was not bored at all listening to the album. There are countless awesome riffs throughout the album, and even though they aren’t overly technical, or even fast, they are incredibly heavy, and basically drive the album. The best part about it is that asides from being so heavy, Ataraxie seem to have a great deal of melody in their music. The transitions from the mellow sections to the heavier parts are very smooth, and there are no lapses in the melody. The majority of the album is very brutal, but it is all made even better with the inclusion of the melancholic, clean sections. The album has a very bassy feel to it, but the bass isn’t predominant. It’s just there, pushing things along, adding more to each crushing blow Slow Transcending Agony
throws at you. Same with the drums, they are simplistic, and just add to the excellence. They blast-beats sound great though, really blowing you away. Just listen to the beginning of the final track, it sounds like typical death metal, but slows down into the doom as the song progresses. Brilliant stuff.
The album begins with the shortest song, a 6 minute introduction, which just blows your face open with intense, heavy riffing, setting the standard for the songs to follow. There aren’t any vocals on the opener, and I actually thought it was the worst song on the album. This is because the vocals really make up a vital part of Slow Transcending Agony
, and that song was void of Jonathan Thery’s exemplary vocals. Whether he be growling a low and throat-wrenching roar, screaming his head off, or whispering softly in French, he really shines on the album. Considering he also plays the bass, he is a very big part of Ataraxie. The first time you hear him, he’ll be uttering a slow and crushing growl at the beginning of ‘Funeral Hymn’, and the last time will be him going absolutely insane, screaming like a deranged lunatic. He is really amazing. I particularly liked the way in some instances he would just lose the plot and just let out agonising, tortured screams. Ignoring the fact that this album combines the best parts of death metal and funeral doom in a talented way, the vocals are what make this album even better. Compared to such bands as Wraith of the Ropes or Tyranny, Ataraxie really prove that there are bands that are still making good doom.
Overall, Slow Transcending Agony
is one of the better doom albums that I’ve listened to lately, and definitely was a relief from all the bad doom that I’ve unfortunately come across. This is definitely a good album to listen to if you want a bridge between death metal and doom metal, as it has great elements from both genres. Highly recommended.