Fathomage
Autumn's Dawn, Winter's Darkness

Fathomage is a one-man, Australian, self-confessed Orthodox Christian who goes by the name of ‘Akul’. But don’t let the orthodox Christian thing put you off, as his music isn’t preachy ‘white metal’ at all but rather a Summoning (he has dabbled in Tolkien themes for prior album Minas Morgul – The Nazgûl Awaken) inspired take on atmospheric black metal.

Autumn’s Dawn, Winter’s Darkness is Akul’s 8th album somehow since 2018 (Jute Gyte vibes anyone?), and apparently, the early albums focused on more purely ambient atmospheric/dungeon synth-type stuff, which I can’t speak to, but certainly on this sprawling 75-minute effort he has come into his own which an album that puts the last couple of Summoning albums to shame, and is up there with Caladan Brood and Urdôl Ur as far as Summoning type black metal.

Now, this has a little caveat- this isn’t quite as keyboard-based as Summoning, not leaning quite so hard intothe brass-heavy synths, and will also have some appeal to fans of bands like label mates Saor as well. But still, for much of the album’s run time, and in many of the long songs, there are plenty of plodding, austere riffs, distant rasped vocals, choirs, and regal, medieval acoustics and atmospherics to where, multiple times throughout the album, I found myself saying to ‘oh, that’s a bit Summoning-ish. But I’d stop a little short of saying this is a pure homage.

With themes of nature and seclusion (imbued in the gorgeous artwork “Multnomah Falls” by Albert Bierstadt), the album is not a quick or easy listen, with 5 of the 8 songs hovering around or way over the 10-minute mark and littered with lengthy (but often gorgeous) acoustic/atmospheric songs (“Tn the Twilight of the Night”, ‘Woodland Songs of the Aspen Forest”) bridges and breaks. Covering all of the songs in detail would make for a dissertation of sorts- but chances are you’ve already made your decision to purchase or not based on the references above.

That said, while the whole album is fantastic, a couple of tracks and moments did really enthrall me a little more than others: “A Dawnfire of Old” is where is get my first heavy Summoning vibe with its somber but regal gait and ending choirs. “The Majesty and Beauty of a Fallen World” is a little more triumphant with some brass synths that again imbue Summoning (they show up again to end “Light of the Eternal Dawn” in majestic fashion), but it also has a pretty vicious, stern final few minutes of more direct, militant black metal (again, also in “Light of the Eternal Dawn”). The Monk-ish chants in “Vales of Darkness” hit a nice, summer/majestic balance and closer is my personal favorite with 15 minutes of basically everything I just mentioned.

I don’t know what they are putting in the water in Australia that produces these amazing one-man/woman atmospheric metal ( Aquilus, Christian Cosentino, Woods of Desolation, Fryktelig Stoy, Runespell)

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
June 26th, 2023

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