Atavistia – Cosmic Warfare (Blood Blast Distribution)

Monday, 24th April 2023
Rating: 8 / 10

Having been plying their trade since 2016, Vancouver’s Atavistia has been quietly creating slick symphonic melodic death metal, but have yet to fully break through to the next level. The quartet released their second full-length The Winter Way in 2020, boasting a super polished, yet occasionally abrasive delivery. It was a step up from their first album, showing a band maturing in their songwriting, but with still plenty of room for growth and to embark on more grandiose journeys ahead. Three years later, their third album Cosmic Warfare is ready to orbit into our eardrums.

With a narrative traversing the subject of being pulled into a black hole, Atavistia seemingly has the right soundtrack for such a terrifying event. The symphonic elements are prominent and varied; bright and whimsical at times, while also bombastic and urgent. Vocalist Matt Sippola’s blackened screams hit the right note, exemplified in the ultra quick title track, adding a harshness to balance proceedings. His clean vocals are also on display on this song; dynamic and operatic, soaring over the mix.

Vincent Jones of Æther Realm adds guest vocals on “Ethereal Wanderer,” being an enjoyable contrast to Sippola’s vicious snarl. The pace slows somewhat in parts here, but those moments can be brief, as we move all over the spectrum, even with power metal inspired moments that fit well with the symphonic nature of the band’s sound. Grandiosity continues on “Spectral Rebirth,” though a little rougher around the edges with the clean vocal delivery and a hair more on the buzzsaw side with the riffs.

Drummer Max Sepulveda is a highlight, as his contributions help add much needed muscle to Atavistia’s sound, especially notable on “Divine Destruction,” where he sets the tone with a solo to begin the song, while relentlessly blasting away throughout Cosmic Warfare to this writer’s delight. Notable is the length of each entry, with the shortest at 7 minutes in length (not counting the intro track), and the longest is album closer “Forgotten Silence” at nearly 12 minutes. Atavistia is all for ambitious composition, and we get that from start to finish, though some songs seem to be a hair long in the tooth. That’s a minor quibble, as there isn’t anything overly listless, but also could be impactful by being a tad tighter.

Atavistia could divide many fans of the varying proclivities of death metal with their flamboyant symphonic leanings and intrinsic focus on melodic and soaring power influences. As with the band’s previous work, this is as polished and slick as can be, with little grit beyond the harsh vocals, so don’t expect any nasty aggression or crushingly nasty guitar tones like a Foretoken possess. Much more focused and sonically pleasing than Wintersun, in addition to a technical prowess that reminds of Scar Symmetry, Atavistia have plenty going for them. Cosmic Warfare is Atavistia’s catchiest and most dynamic album so far, showcasing a band on the ascendance who will assuredly more than please fans of heavily symphonic, epic death metal. The future is bright as the stars, and this album may indeed be their breakthrough. Hopefully they continue their upward trajectory, avoiding any desolate black holes.

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