Finnish atmospheric black metal Atrum Tempestas have been around for seven years, yet in that time have only managed to release a couple of EPs and as of next week, their first debut album in “Néant”. Though it tends to be fairly easy what to expect from the atmospheric black metal tag, there is a lot to take in from any of Atrum Tempestas’ work, more particularly from the band’s 31-minute long debut album, comprised of no more than three lengthy songs.
It boggles the mind to look at the tracklisting and at the same time expect a bit of variety, but that’s just what “Néant” exceeds at, given that every song is different from the other. We are thrown headlong into Atrum Tempestas’ musical world almost immediately as the short, sharp breath gives way to arguably one of the most haunting and melodic opening extreme metal riffs of 2014. Though opener ‘Quitter Ceux qui Etaint Deja Partis’ never really changes its pace throughout the 14-minute length, you can gradually feel yourself falling deeper into the song’s atmospheric grasp, and as said before, variety comes in different forms. The first half seems neverending until the halfway point sees the instrumentation become quieter, somewhat more ambient before echoing the bleak, black metal sound once again. It’s perhaps the perfect way to open an album as sprawling as this, even though it reaches at just over 30 minutes in total time. That said, it certainly manages to create a promising journey which also never fails to take the listener into worlds unknown with its mesmerizing atmosphere.
Unfortunately the track which is stuck in the middle and is also by far the shortest, ‘S’Eclipser’, fails to exceed the expectations grasped from “Néant”‘s opening track. It certainly is more straightforward but for that reason is the album’s sole downpoint, in which the harsher side of Atrum Tempestas’ muscianship seems to take higher priority. There isn’t as much atmospheric beauty as in the previous song and though instrumentally everything does seem spot on, it also feels like there’s something missing. That said, everything is regained once again by the time the opening notes of album closer ‘Et Apres…Le Néant’ hit the listener’s eardrums. It is different to the first two songs in more aspects than you would think, and at times even brings to mind Solstafir with its gradual, fantastical atmosphere before plunging headlong into bitter despair. The added flourishes here are beautiful-the tinkling, lullaby-like keyboards, the harmonic vocal changes-but what lies at the heart of this song’s particular success is its growing charm, where with every minute you can feel yourself being haunted moments after the album has finished. Essentially, this is the moment where the band almost achieve a more progressive, experimental style, whilst keeping the atmospheric black metal formula fully intact.
What Atrum Tempestas have achieved with debut album “Néant” is a promising start to a hopefully long-winded career, and it may just be giving us a taste of what further enchanting music is to come. For those who like their black metal with no added ingredients whatsoever, this album will do no favours, but for everyone else it will be yet another great addition to a year where extreme metal has been excellent indeed. Here’s to the future for Atrum Tempestas then.
Released on 13th October.
1. Quitter Ceux qui Etaint Deja Partis
3. Et Apres…Le Neant