The environment in which music is listened to can have a profound effect on the experience. The mood can be enhanced or in some cases diminished due to your surroundings. For example, Agalloch is better felt while walking through a rainforest or Queens of the Stone Age being ideal for the desert driving experience. Atriarch are one of the exceptions. An Unending Pathway can be experienced taking a bath, walking the dog, shoveling snow, hunting witches or clearing road kill. It matters very little where this is heard, its 40 minutes that will result in nothing short of helplessness and despair.
An Unending Pathway is a disturbingly honest depiction of birth, life, death and transcendence. What control we do have in this cycle is predestined and the choices made ultimately end up in the destruction of the soul, each other and the ground we stand on.
Atriarch have refined their sound over their short three album career, from the early doom leanings of ‘Forever the End’, to ‘Ritual Of Passing’, where their craft began to truly take shape. With An Unending Pathway this band is very close to their peak, its lyrically powerful, carefully crafted, written with class, while exhibiting “A grade” performances throughout.
The variation throughout keeps you on edge, ranging from passages of goth rock, black metal, progressive sludge, ritualistic doom, post punk and psychedelic rock. What is impressive about this is that Atriarch manage these stylistic markers so seamlessly, it’s simply who they are and it comes across effortlessly. Musically the performances of vocalist Lenny Smith is prominent, his range and variety adds intensity and depth, It’s one of the highlights of 2014. The work of drummer Maxamillion is a breath of fresh air, the repetitive nature of his arrangements and fills is at times enough to put the listener into a trance. The production and mixing is perfect for this type of release, with just enough clarity but the right balance of grit.
Unravelling the album further, you could describe Entropy as a slow building creepy gothic opener drawing you in slowly before unleashing nightmarish hell. Collapse likewise starts off in an unimposing manner, however before you know it has buried itself within your soul. Bereavement forms the centerpiece and would be considered the heaviest number on the record, It only gets more frightening from there with Smith and co depicting decomposition of the life cycle on Rot. Allfather’s industrious ear melting drum pattern being enough to put this well beyond a pass mark with guest performances from Worm Oroborous’ Jessica Way on closer Veil still to come.
With a new signing to a label such as Relapse Records, Atriarch are probably going to feel it necessary to expand their sound further on album number four, however if they show the type of growth and expansion in sound they have made in 3 years, then the metal community will have a very special band on their hands. This is one of the more surprising releases of 2014.
4.5 / 5
1 – Entropy
2 – Collapse
3 – Revenant
4 – Bereavement
5 – Rot
6 – Allfather
7 – Veil