Review Summary: A disappointing comeback after their brilliant debut.
Ataraxie’s debut, Slow Transcending Agony
was a superb album; it combined a very strong influence of death metal with funeral doom, resulting in a very heavy, yet brooding album. With Anhedonie
, the band has attempted to expand their foundations, making the album longer, slower, and much more atmospheric. As a result, we have a monstrously long album, with only 4 songs ranging from 13 to 24 minutes (not including the intro). In this regard, Anhedonie
is quite an intense album, and should not be taken lightly.
The balance of climactic heavier moments and the slow funeral doom is still as apparent as it was on their last album, but Ataraxie have expanded the gap between the significance of both styles. In general, Anhedonie
is much slower, with the bursts of energy coming only so often, to either break the melancholy or provide a climax to the music. To be honest, I would not go so far to say that this ‘longer’ approach to Ataraxie’s style of doom is better than what we had on Slow Transcending Agony
; rather than a progression to a new sound, the band has re-shaped their fundamentals and given us a different perspective to their music. Or so I like to think.
The overall sound of the album is very dark; the softer sections exude a sense of despair, and the heavier moments just sound fu
cking evil. Very much like Slow Transcending Agony
the band does not waste its time using anything like keyboards, synth etc. to create an atmosphere; it is merely the equilibrium between the cleaner and heavier sections, along with the presence of Thery, that creates a thick and dark atmosphere. However, these 'atmospheric' sections are much longer on Anhedonie
, and there are more of them, which unfortunately causes the album to drag in numerous instances. The bloated track lengths are probably a result of this, and in all honesty Ataraxie would have done themselves a favour by cutting between 5 and 10 minutes off each song. Even so, the songs themselves are quite well written, albeit far too long.
Jonathan Thery, the bassist and vocalist, is the driving force of Anhedonie
, and of Ataraxie's sound in general. He’s easily one of the better vocalists in the genre; from his fierce growls, to his desperate screams, and even his whispers, he is the perfect accompaniment to the music. I particularly liked the way he’d begin with a growl and then trail off into a scream, it really works wonders for this album. His growls definitely sound better than on their debut, but there is marked difference in the amount of high toned screaming he does; they play a very prominent role, not quite overshadowing the growls still (which is a good thing), but Thery has decided to try and balance the two styles on Anhedonie
. I personally enjoy his growls a lot more, and would have preferred him to save the cries of desperation for only particular moments. In certain sections, such as in ‘Walking Through the Land of Falsity’, I feel that it would have been better if he had kept the vocal tones at a low; his screams are good in small doses, but they are very over used on Anhedonie
There are some glaring faults on Anhedonie
which unfortunately are large enough not to warrant a higher rating. I still like to think that the band haven't taken a step back, merely a step to the side, but there is no doubt that this release doesn't have the strength or intensity of its predecessor. Even so, Anhedonie
is not a complete failure, merely a different take on Ataraxie’s already original sound.