Atramentus
Stygian


3.5
great

Review

by DarkNoctus USER (45 Reviews)
August 25th, 2020 | 24 replies


Release Date: 08/21/2020 | Tracklist


Stygian isn't your typical funeral doom album filled with mournful, sad passages and atmospheric leanings. It does, thank goodness, have all of that and delivers them in a fashion that can be described as very compelling. A cryptic melding of church organ, massive and discordant piano chords with unsettling drones meet your typical affair of metal instrumentation. It's slowed to a crawl, however - even by some funeral doom band's standards. Each climactic cymbal and snare crash isn't unlike standing in the centre of a thunderstorm anxiously awaiting the next clash of thunder. Perhaps hold onto that feeling, too, as that feeling of unease and disdain sets Atramentus apart. This isn't an album to make you feel sad or sorrowful - it's an album that sets out to make you feel like you're drowning in your own breath.

Split into two longer movements with a short interlude between them, Stygian is more accessible than it seems. Its slick, gorgeous production courtesy of Greg Chandler (of Esoteric fame) means its simultaneously easy on the ears and crushingly heavy - a false dichotomy that Greg's always uncannily had a knack for. Atramentus' sound doesn't rely much on melody, moreso of the massive rhythm guitars to carry the heft of the sound, interchanging between subtle orchestral elements.

The first movement, "Stygian I", is perhaps weaker than the second, if only for its ending feeling more like it fizzles out than ending on a memorable note, simply allowing the drums to play the movement to a close. After 16 minutes of what felt like tone-setting it's hard not to expect more before the band lulls you into the ambient interlude - and though it's as well executed as the rest of the instrumentation, it feels misplaced; structurally it feels like lull after lull.

"Stygian III" picks things up perfectly, however - not wasting a moment. The lead guitar is of particular note on this track for being not only carrying the song's momentum, but for being spellbindingly beautiful, reminding me of the likes of Colosseum's very best works. The ambient break here is not only gorgeous with its melancholic chord progression, but the build to the album's climax thereafter is exceptional by any band's standards - let alone a project debut. However, it brings one back to the purveying feeling of what built up to that moment. It's a strange claim to call a record that lasts 45 minutes fleeting, but it honestly feels that way; for as cathartic as Stygian feels it lacks the breadth of its contemporaries.

It's a tough sell to argue that each member on this record is greater than the sum of its parts as both the clean and harsh vocals do little more than rumble away in the mix. As wonderful as much of the instrumentation is, when it all melds together it just feels like it cannot be grasped - as if lost in the haze. There's a vast ocean of emotional impetus behind this album's creation but with only one of the two main compositions of the record having satisfying conclusions, it's hard not to feel like not all of it translates to the recording, and thus, Stygian is impactful whilst it's on but not a moment beyond. A stronger first half and more prominent vocals would have made Stygian far, far stronger but it's an immensely promising debut from a band I hope are already planning a follow-up.



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user ratings (82)
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
DarkNoctus
August 25th 2020


11416 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ay up



https://listen.20buckspin.com/album/stygian



listen to this

Digging: Asphyx - Necroceros

Sunnyvale
August 25th 2020


1979 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review. Album rules, the third track especially

DarkNoctus
August 25th 2020


11416 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

stygian iii is fantastic yeah

ComeToDaddy
August 25th 2020


1828 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oh damn, never realised this had Greg producing, big day on Friday for him between this and Self Hypnosis. Makes sense though, the vocal mixing sounds identical to Esoteric in some of it's more dismal moments. And I love some of the cosmic gurgles too, sounds almost like a doomy version of Chthe'ilist vox in a couple spots.

Great album and review. Agreed hard that back portion of Part 1 leading into Part 2 let the album down a bit, nearly 8min of downtime is a lot for such a short doom album

Gyromania
August 25th 2020


31836 Comments


Why a 3.5? Now I have no way of knowing if this is a 1 or a 5

Digging: Daniel Knox - Won't You Take Me With You

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
August 25th 2020


12627 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Saw this posted by First Fragment the other day, so it was on my radar. Excited to try it out, although this style isn't always my thing.



Nice review pal, pos'd

Digging: Conway - If It Bleeds It Can Be Killed

TheNotrap
Contributing Reviewer
August 25th 2020


15615 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm glad this album has been reviewed, it's been my fall asleep album for the last couple of days. I dig the its vibe

Digging: Suffering Hour - The Cyclic Reckoning

Atari
Staff Reviewer
August 25th 2020


26226 Comments


this looks gorgeous

Digging: The Hold Steady - Open Door Policy

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
August 26th 2020


13428 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

A jOe daddy review

zaruyache
August 26th 2020


23585 Comments


d000000m

MiloRuggles
Contributing Reviewer
August 26th 2020


1074 Comments


niiiiice review pos and bumpin

Azog
August 26th 2020


408 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Funeral doom done right.

BallsToTheWall
August 26th 2020


50263 Comments


Dope review/album/art.

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
August 27th 2020


12627 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

First half definitely drags, but that second half is worth a listen for sure.

Egarran
August 28th 2020


20720 Comments


OK it's really good but I think I'm moving away from this genre, like, as a person, you know?

Digging: Null (USA) - Hiraeth

figure337
September 4th 2020


632 Comments


Those song titles are so ridiculous that even Coheed would blush at them.

Digging: Cult of Luna - The Raging River

Egarran
September 4th 2020


20720 Comments


But not Bal-Sagoth

botb
September 9th 2020


14305 Comments


This album art is unbelievable

Floofus
September 25th 2020


147 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album is dope. Needs more love

botb
September 25th 2020


14305 Comments


One of my boys just got this in the mail on wax, very jealous



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