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Atriarch: An Unending Pathway

The best thing about being a music reviewer - besides the money, fame and women - is that after every four or five solid, albeit ordinary, unremarkable promos, you hear one that absolutely blows your auditory cortex straight through the back of your skull. In this case, Portland Oregon's Atriarch has provided the much needed kick in my ear's teeth.

Formed in 2009, Atriarch has bestowed two solid albums prior to 2014's An Unending Pathway, which comes to us on the increasingly diverging Relapse Records. Perhaps their relative isolation from most metal 'scenes,' such as they are, has contributed to the unique brand of genre-defying material being created by Atriarch. Whatever it is, their combination of funeral doom, ritualistic music, black metal and heavy metal is truly transporting the music somewhere beyond, into something else entirely. This is not an easy task.

Take opening track 'Entropy,' with its disturbing introduction of unintelligible speaking and subterranean sounds, rising from these depths with rolling, ritualistic drums and funerary chanting. After a few moments the guitars begin, as a doom-laden clean vocal accompanies an Agalloch meets Nachtmystium set of leads. Another burst of clean singing drives the song completely from its coffin in a climactic avalanche of fury and cascading rhythms. This feeling of building up accompanies most of the songs which comprise An Unending Pathway. And yet its more than that. There is deconstruction first, the obliteration of preconceived reality and its paltry shackles. Next song 'Collapse' begins with more ritualistic drumming. The voices and the rolling drums reminiscent of an excellent band from the 90's called Mindrot (also a Relapse band, oddly enough). 'Collapse' revs up slowly, the chant of the word 'DISCIPLES!' finally bursting the dam of tension completely. The song devastates swiftly to its end, before bleeding into the spacey, yet still menacing 'Revenant.' Things get decidedly more black metal on 'Bereavement,' which nevertheless turns quickly to a slow, lumbering pace of morbid clean vocals and heavy-as-fuck doom riffs. 'Rot' could be the sermon of a necromancer, its rolling cascade of blackened doom echoing off empty underground chambers of larvae, maggots and worms. Even as minimalist as a song as 'Rot' has that sense of construction going on, of a subtle build-up of tension hidden in the tortured riffs and increasingly agonized vocals. The magnificent 'Allfather' could be the stentorian railing of great Odin himself, banging his head against the walls of an unseen prison. The album concludes with 'Veils,' a dirtier blackened beast of a song calling to mind the vibe of the first two Samael albums.

An Unending Pathway flows like the men who composed it were preordained in its making. The fluidity of this record makes it seem as though they were mere vessels for something which existed long ago, something which chose them instead of the other way around. Atriarch have struck gold here, folks. Do not let this album pass you by.

Track Listing
01. Entropy
02. Collapse
03. Revenant
04. Bereavement
05. Rot
06. Allfather
07. Veil

Added: December 17th 2014
Reviewer: Nicholas Franco
Related Link: Official Atriarch Facebook Page
Hits: 1677
Language: english

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