Atriarch
Forever the End

I really wanted to like the debut from this doom sludge act from Portland more, but despite a sickly hue and oozing pallor, I can’t bring myself to be as impressed as I am by other like minded acts (Cough, Thou, Highgate, Coffinworm).

It starts out well enough with a throbbing patient lope and fuzzed, crawling gait of “Plague”, and I’m thinking its a portents of something really nasty to come, which at times it is. But some distant groans and moans kick in, and even though some tortured screams kick in a bit later, I’m immediately turned off. I’ll generally try to be patient with vocals, and if the music is good enough I’ll get over it (see A Storm of Light), but on this track the drunken warbling simply kills the mood rather than give it a sort of uber suicidal, ultra Goth -vibe the band might have been aiming for.

I give the second track, ‘Shadows” a chance to see if “Plagues” was simply a bump in the road. And again, the track starts impressively with a droning, haunting scrawl but yup–about 1;50 in–comes the warbling moans. Granted, those pained screams kick in again and at these moments I’m really liking Atriarch, especially the following fever dream of feedback drenched doom. But as soon as Lenny Smith reverts to his moaning, the often excellent background music is a bit tarnished — as the start of the album’s longest track “Fracture” shows.

I’ll admit, I may be nit picking with the vocals, because realistically Forever the End is largely a trip into pulsing, atmospheric, droning filth.  So the few moments of vocals are in fact relatively minimal. It’s just that when they do show up, they just derail the paranoid mood the music is doing a good job setting. That being said, if Smith had just kept to the screams I would have easily enjoyed this release much more. Just look at the closer “Downfall” as a small glimpse of the musical vs. vocal dichotomy.

This is one of the releases and reviews, where the prospective buyer is going to have to check out samples and make their own decision as I’m making much more of a bigger deal about the vocals than they probably are. Doom/sludge aficionados will probably love this way more than I do as I’m just loving parts of it. Namely, the musical parts.

 

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
October 10th, 2011

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