Atriarch – An Unending Pathway (Relapse)

Sunday, 2nd November 2014
Rating: 7.5/10

Atriarch continues the process of change and evolution that began with their previous album, Ritual of Passing. The Oregon-based doom band is far more than a simple doom tag can provide. But it’s a distinct difference from the band’s initial state of doomy black metal. This is something far more deliberate and potent.

It’s pointless to attempt to flesh out the number of subgenre calling cards that Atriarch bring to the table this time around. Just listen to the opening number, “Entropy,” and you can hear the diversity for yourself. Vocalist Lenny Smith leads the brigade, going from bleak crooning drones to whispers to blackened screams, and even tosses in some clean vocals that sometimes sound more like a more punkish version of The Cure. The latter will probably make or break the band for a number of people, but the variety should make it so that it’s not a focal point. The songs have a tendency to build up tension in the beginning of the track, starting with quiet and striving towards an occasionally explosive finish. Notable for bucking this trend is “Bereavement,” the shortest track of the bunch, which sees the band drop the opening mood for all out aggression from the start.

The thought that the third album provides a make or break situation isn’t new, but Atriarch certainly prove their mettle with An Unending Pathway. Some may be taken aback by the unique vocal approach, but there’s no faulting the band for trying an outside the box approach. In a constant state of evolution, it bodes well for Atriarch to continue along this pathway and keep the element of surprise on their side.

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