Review Summary: The Other Path is a study of how Ataraxie found their identity.
Even though Ataraxie’s recent album Anhedonie
was largely a disappointment after their groundbreaking 2005 debut Slow Transcending Agony
, it was good in the fact that it gave me more reason to put on The Other Path
. The Other Path
is officially a demo, but at seven songs (8 on the reissue) and forty five minutes, the band is really pushing the term ‘demo’. The Other Path
shows an earlier form of Ataraxie, a slightly naïve form perhaps, one which is still oblivious to the horrific and agonizing end of the world that funeral doom preaches. Essentially, the style utilized by the band is death/doom, but certain elements that would later be expanded upon are here in their primordial structure. If I were to draw a comparison off the top of my head, Autopsy’s Mental Funeral
definitely fits in place, with the condition that as Mental Funeral
is death metal with a thick and crusty doom feel, The Other Path
is a doom album coupled with the energy and brutality of death metal.
Much in the same vein as Slow Transcending Agony
, Ataraxie make sure to give a very emotional performance with The Other Path
. However, instead of the crushing aspect that came to light on their next release, the album maintains a strong sense of melody throughout its length; in a way it’s reminiscent of Garden of Shadows’ brand of melodic death as seen on Oracle Moon
, albeit slightly more doom focused. The eponymous track itself is the epitome of Ataraxie’s grasp over such a variety of different styles; starting off in a very typical death/doom fashion, the song builds into some heavy low end riffing that’ll make you punch your friends in the face, before moving onto a beautiful harmonized melody which fluidly works its way into a very tasteful display on a church organ. The rest of the songs are all varied in similar ways; weaving in and out of a plethora of moods and styles, the assortment of influences keep The Other Path
from becoming stagnant and unappealing.
As seen on pretty much any Ataraxie work, vocalist/bassist Jonathan Thery leads and shapes the songs significantly with his vocals. From gutturals so deep you’ll shi
t your pants, to gurgling shrieks taken straight out of the darkest pits of black metal, Thery easily matches the musical diversity found on The Other Path
with his voice. What is most interesting about The Other Path
is how it shows the band in a stage where they were yet to completely decide which path they had to take. The demo encompasses a variety of styles, all of which were possible paths the band could have followed, and as we know from Slow Transcending Agony
, Ataraxie did indeed follow the ‘other’ path; not only making a funeral doom album that distinguishes itself from all others belonging to the genre, but making an incredible piece of music that sticks out like a sore thumb from the general levels of mediocrity one finds in music these days. The Other Path
is a precursor to this greatness; it is a great listen in its own right, but the worth one can attribute to it is infinitely higher taken in context to the band’s later releases.