Review Summary: A switch in Evoken’s line up hasn’t really changed too much and after a five year wait Altra Mors displays a band content with their music.
There is a high chance that Atra Mors
may never live up to hallmarked and successful Antithesis of Light
which was perceived by many as a classic funeral doom record. Evoken continue their nihilistic atmospheric approach to the music despite a change within (this being that founding member/guitarist Nick Orlando called it quits after A Caress of the Void
) and create an oppressive, lengthy and to a certain point suffocating listen as many features entwine in typical Evoken fashion. Atra Mors
moves deliberately, pulsing through a tumult of eerie yet smoothly melodic piano phrases, growls rung out riffs all of which complement, reinforce and push towards the end of this hour and so long minimalistic affair. The record itself isn’t exactly an easy listen – it’s not meant to be. This New Jersey five piece maintain a dredging and eerie atmosphere throughout Atra Mors
(not to mention there other full lengths) and build upon a foundation present in the already mentioned Antithesis of Light
even after a five year wait. The only downside for listeners is that the change in line up doesn’t really provide too much a fresh feel for the record.
Dissonant melodies punctuate through the majority of the album, combined with deep growls, steady drum patterns and equal tempo phrasing. Evoken don’t really explore tempo shifts nor do they break away from what is the typical Evoken soundscape. Notes resonate clearly through the production and accent that Evoken haven’t really lost too much of their creative input. The professional production aids the album in every way possible. Without having the notes ring clearly and the flanger (guitar, found in ‘Grim Eloquence’) effects float through the atmosphere would be lost under static and buzz. For the most part Evoken displays technique of a veteran band. Since the band’s inception in 1994 with their debut Shades of Night Descending
Evoken have roughly enjoyed a successful recipe without having to overly deviate it’s form. Atra Mors
isn’t overly distinguishable in a track by track form. The album progresses in a manner where tracks blend together brought together by a couple of instrumental passages that if nothing else help reinforce the minimalistic approach found in all of Evoken’s albums. While Atra Mors
may not be an improvement on Antithesis of Light
it does in fact improve on the previous record A Caress of the Void
; where A Caress of the Void
didn’t stray away from an already cemented sound Atra Mors
had half a decade to be built. None of the record feels rushed (this is clear in a record that’s one hour and seven minutes long) nor are any of the musical representations shallow in their making. Every note, every growl has its place and is used to maximise the albums overall atmosphere. Evoken haven’t done anything out of the ordinary but they have displayed how to do the stuff they already knew how to really well.
Overall Atra Mors
displays a worship of nihilistic and minimalistic passages all brought together in a culmination five years in the making. The record may not surpass the ‘best of the best’ but does manage to rival the band’s consistent catalogue and the works of other similar minded groups (Until Death Overtakes Me, Ash Borer and Samothrace to name a few). The band’s dissonant tones combine with ringing chords and an impressive use of deep growls to highlight Evoken’s Atra Mors
in a highly positive light. For fans of the band’s previous records there isn’t too much that differentiates but it should keep for a number of repeated listens. As for those new to the band or the genre it isn’t that much of a bad place to start. Evoken enter the race (even if a little slowly) for a doom metal record of 2012 reinforcing the fact that the band still has after all these years what it takes to release a quality record.