Review Summary: A maturing funeral doom metal band sits at the height of its accomplishments.
Funeral doom metal is a rather interesting movement. Its characteristics often follow that of a slow paced journey through a conveyance of emotion as its focal point. Whether the conveyance is effective or not depends on the artists/bands abilities and Evoken
are doing a great job of creating music that is captivating and powerful. With any funeral doom act, due to typical lengthy songs, a great deal of attention is needed to absorb its elements; as well as many listens. “Atra Mors” is Evoken’s
fifth studio album that shows a greater level of focus and dissemination. Some of their earlier material showed powerful compositions that were sometimes awe-inspiring but with “Atra Mors” we have more of a welcoming feel that seems to pull the listener in before dense displays of musicianship.
Most of the songs here are much more easygoing than their previous work; easygoing in an un-forceful way. When you look at the second track “Descent Into Chaotic Dream” you can’t help but notice the song is just as effective as any other song they’ve done before, but here the approach is very different. The first seven minutes of this eleven minute track make use of various harmonizing textures that seamlessly intertwine. The keyboards of Don Zaros and the guitar work of Nick Orlando and John Paradiso fit so well together that sometimes you may find yourself forgetting there are keyboards in this band. Clearly, Evoken’s
maturity as a funeral doom metal band are manifested in the understanding that emotions can be achieved in a variety of different ways as long as proper attention is given to feel rather than display.
can still be found using their typical tried and proven formula of dynamic shifts; the types that start slow, then builds up with double bass drum attacks, then backs down to slow nothingness until all layers have been peeled away as found in the intro title track. But with “Atra Mors” many of the tracks fit cohesively well into each other where each track seems to take the emotional “torch” in a successive journey like that of a relay runner who passes the baton. A successful link that binds the second and fourth track is the instrumental “A Tenebrous Vision” which is basically a classical track which takes advantage of the already reverb filled atmosphere the album shows throughout. While basic in composition, this bridge track couldn’t have been placed any better amongst this lengthy over-hours length of funeral doom. And again, we have towards the latter half of “Atra Mors” an instrumental that links the rest of the album together; a blend of synth violins and guitar strums. These two instrumentals, although short, fit very well into the album and only add to its flow rather than feeling like filler.
“Grim Elquence” may be one of the strongest tracks off “AM” which seems to be the most articulate. Here a substantial amount of elements are used, ranging from mid paced tempos and even a solo which breaks successfully away from harmonized leads. This track reeks of originality and really shows a lot more of Evoken’s
potential as leading to what they may do in the future. Even with this track as a standout it never over shines anything else “AM” has to offer. Rather, as mentioned before, its level of creativity only makes every other track all the more special and powerful, as “AM” is likened more to a single body rather than separates trying to coexist.
The lyrical themes of death and futility fit extremely well amongst the grimy-putrid atmosphere herein. The typical low registered growls of John Paradiso are just as strong as ever and he jumps out of monotony of various tracks where he can be heard hitting higher levels such as the ones found on the powerful closer “Into Aphotic Devastation”. Although sometimes incomprehensible due to the genres nature, lyrics such as “worlds shall never go unscathed within, its fabric of unrelenting punishment” and “it is not the sick verse of immortality, but the conflict of belief” are perfect compliments to the weighty nature of “Atra Mors” musical delivery. And although sometimes incomprehensible, Paradiso’s vocals are usually used as a crusty instrumental addition to heighten the pounding guitar’s distortion and perfectly executed drums for this style of music; a noteworthy factor that lends to the flow of this lengthy, yet solid release.
Although “Atra Mors” is not necessarily a groundbreaking album, it is
an extremely solid release for 2012 and any lover or seeker of funeral doom metal should find many elements to enjoy here. With such a solid discography of albums, it is no wonder Evoken
are one of the leading acts in a genre that is usually/frequently hit or miss.