Atriarch – Dead as Truth (Relapse)Sunday, 3rd September 2017
You look at a band like Portland, OR’s Atriarch, a droning, through-and-through dark, minimalistic troupe, and figure that okay, let’s hunker down for the next 60 minutes and see if we can withstand those wristwatch-looking elongated sonic trips that usually accompany music of this form. Except, Atriarch don’t play it that way. Rewind to their 2014 An Unending Pathway and it was the same deal; Atriarch play a more immediate brand of dark doom and/or rock. And frankly, it can’t be “none more black” than their fourth album, Dead as Truth.
The foundation of the band’s sound lies with barely-there riffs. They drone, they’re discordant and are the main interference when tribal drum patterns are ready to give way. And while vocalist Lenny Smith goes from Killing Joke-like vocal shouts to harsh, almost too-harsh growls in the same song (the best example being “Void”), the thread of minimalism prevails. In turn, most of the cuts seethe and brimmer, like, it’s too much to ask to get comfortable with these songs, instead, it’s a wait-and-see game over when Smith is going to go full-apeshit and the harshness (see: “Repent”) is going to take shape.
In their pursuit to remain a separatist metal outfit that encompasses many forms but doesn’t master any, Atriarch leaves song satisfaction on the cutting room floor in favor of an unseemly blend. Yeah, it works here on Dead as Truth, as it did on An Unending Pathway, but all too often, Atriarch’s songs just feel too out of reach when they could be within grasp.