22 Apr 2023 - Knut
Death Metal | Independent, Blood Blast Distribution | Release date: 21 Apr 2023 | Favorite song: Spectral Rebirth
Wall-to-wall intense and passionate Epic Melodic Metal with grand orchestrations that sweep you away into a tumultuous rollercoaster ride of musical impressions. I could stop writing here because this is what the grandiose and vivid music on this album really does. No more said. But I will of course elaborate as there is much to tell…
It seems like the Canadians of Atavistia have left the concept of wintery, snowy cold landscapes of the north and shot into the vastness of space with this release. Their sound is, of course, highly recognizable but with some shifts especially in the production as the grand orchestrations do not so much drown out the other instruments as they did on the previous releases, in my opinion. Furthermore, the band might have drifted a bit away from their main source of inspiration.
Like the other albums, this album also comes out as kind of a metal-related symphony in eight movements and should be listened to in one go to really immerse oneself in the vast soundscapes. These are soundscapes consisting of Death Metal growls, breathtaking riffs and solos, blasting drums, and some wonderful, long-stretching, strong clear vocals. And of course, the symphonic orchestration that surrounds and underpins the heavy epic and cinematic music that floats and soars fast forward with nice breathers in between.
As with the previous two releases, this one also opens with a short instrumental track, ”Omega Nova”, that might be seen as an overture for the album. It opens with foreboding sound effects. The sounds float to meet dark orchestral sounds rising up from whipping winds. It is like an overture to a grandiose film as a distant choir soars over the orchestral music where violins surge and distant timpanis are hit. The track is swooping into the next, ”Cosmic Warfare”, and the journey into space and Atavistia´s far-reaching stormy turbulent, and intense musical universe begins.
With both - the melodic symphonic orchestration and a wild choir - accompanying the thundering drums and the growling vocals with high-pitched guitar it forms a very dense and energetic song or movement. It flows through the whole track, with some “pauses” to let the instruments widen the scope of the music before the death metal sound hits back with both growling and clear vocals, even with spoken words immersed in the music. The full-blown Melodic Death Metal pushes towards the end combining the different kinds of vocals overtaking each other. Unbelievably, towards the end, the extent of the music grows even broader before it halters to a stop driven by a high-pitched guitar.
This music is created with many levels to build up a whole soundscape that at first seems impossible to penetrate. But if you listen carefully there are subtle changes. You can catch the distant soprano voice on this first song or the subtle shifts in the sonics on ”Ethereal Wanderer” as a high-pitched guitar glides in and makes the music even more engaging while a strong clean vocal is rising in the music followed by another fast guitar line. There is no pause, no place to breathe in this wall of sound as it pushes towards the ending fanfare.
Such are the songs on this album: onslaughts of passionate operatic music, soaring choirs, and guitars. The onslaughts that lift you up are never brutal, they are inspiring as you are lifted from surges of heavy wide-spreading music in what sometimes seems like endless crescendos. Although the music flows like a heavy waterfall, there are also examples of engaging staccato-induced musical parts like in ”Spectral Rebirth” that drive on the power surge of hard music and furious blasts as the orchestration and choir arrangement seem wild while a melody can be heard in the background. The sound then turns into a guitar stop-and-go along some bursts by the choir between staccato elements in the song. It comes as a relief when it loosens up and sweeps along with growling vocals and the ever-singing choir and orchestra laying the foundation for the riffs and bursts of high-pitched solos. The shifts between staccato elements and free-floating and soaring parts make the song immensely satisfying to listen to. Towards the end, the vocals and the music arrive at a crescendo finale ending abruptly with one cello note fading away fast.
Each song, apart from the intro, clocks in between 8 and 11 minutes. That gives the creative force behind the band, Mattias Sippola, the time to elaborate on the songs and his visions for each track and for the album. It is very tightly produced and it is an understatement to say that there is never a dull moment. The album finishes of with another massive piece of music, ”Forgotten Silence”. This song is built around an enchanting and captive melodic theme. The music heaves and sinks with the theme, coming from every corner of the wall of sound. The growls, the stretching clean vocals, the massive sound from the guitars supported by the grandiose orchestral arrangement - everything circles around the musical theme. Even when the music fades away and only a solo guitar is present before the orchestra returns and a new “attack” in the form of a never-ending crescendo is back as the diverse vocals sing in harmony and against each other. Everything comes together and surges before it simmers down into sound effects, opening up a vast plain of sound that will soon turn into silence as the sonic journey is over for this time.
The music created by Atavistia makes for wonderful escapism, flying away daydreaming for 48 minutes. In this genre, there are of course other bands that give you that ability. One of them is mentioned in almost every review or written piece about Atavistia, claiming Atavistia might be a bit too close to their musical inspiration. I have not mentioned it, I leave that to the band as I quote their tongue-in-cheek sales point for their new tank-top-shirt that is called “Hell Sauna”: ”WE KNOW we sound like Wintersun!”