Over the last three decades, the sub-genre of funeral doom metal set its boundaries by interweaving its slow and lethargic paces with the wavering bleak atmosphere of the synthesizer. This peculiar style of structuring the songs through long measured lengths differed substantially from the fundamentals of death metal. Like the forefathers of funeral doom metal such as Skepticism and Thergothon, the Canadian funeral doom outfit Atramentus dilates their monolithic craft on the debut album ‘Stygian‘, set for a release date on friday August 21 through 20 Buck Spin. In the last few years the underground metal scene has embraced the artistic masterpieces of the Polish painter Marius Lewandowski, whose imaginative creativity was displayed on a number of cover arts. Lewandowski has produced many breathtaking portraits in the last couple of years and perhaps his most memorable portrait is the cover album of the funeral doom metal band Bellwitch. And because there is a lot of demand for such exotic art, his aesthetic work on the newest album of Atramentus is yet another paradigm of his vision.
‘Stygian‘ is a deep interpretation of funeral doom metal: its three prolonged tracks feel like a forlorn dirge of bygone times. The album opener ‘Stygian I: From Tumultuous Heavens…(Descended Forth The Ceaseless Darkness‘ offers a dark and haunting atmosphere of wailing growls. Atramentus provides the listener with somber dirges and while the songs occasionally change, they somewhat bring a familiar tone of the funeral doom classics. ‘Stygian‘ has the fundamental quality of exploring the dark depths of the abyss. I must say that the cover art of the album perfectly mirrors the songs. Simultaneously, the music invokes beauty and misery though there are many haunting moments that are mainly applied in the mid-tempo sections. Atramentus creates many chilling soundscapes with the use of the organ and the drifting howls seem highly effective in paving a desolate pathway to an endless procession. The drums carry a heavy and ponderous beat to perfect the slow rhythmic pace of the mournful anthems. While the guitars altogether sound down-tuned, they add harmonies to the song texture. Atramentus features the band members of amogst others Chthe’ilist, Funebrarum and Guverah.
The lineup includes Phil Tougas (growls, chants and guitars), Claude Leduc (guitars), François Bilodeau (synth, piano), Antoine Daigneault (bass) and Xavier Berthiaume (drums).
‘Stygian II: In Ageless Slumber (As I Dream in the Doleful Embrace of the Howling Black Winds)‘ intertwines much suspense with other elements like the synth and the cold wintry soundscapes, creating a foreboding sense of doom. Atramentus sprawls over the dramatic suspense on this track which approximately lasts for less than five minutes. The Canadian quintet stretches the ambient sounds to variable changes in the atmosphere.
The final track ‘Stygian III: Perennial Voyage (Across the Perpetual Planes of Crying Frost and Steel & Steel Eroding Blizzards)’ is the longest cut on the album, extending to an epic time length of twenty-three minutes. The song slowly oscillates between the epic dirges of funeral doom metal. On this track, the riffs build up a unique composition that you won’t experience in other funeral doom bands. The epic gloom along with the bursting growls provides a ghostly feel, while the guitars fabricate a morose theme.
These overwhelming elements burst out in a flurry of emotions from the rough anguishing growls to the mournful melody of the piano. Atramentus has surely created their own niche. ‘Stygian‘ combines the somber qualities that define the dark aesthetics of funeral doom. You’ll find that musical spells are expanded to create different moods and feelings. Through the final moments of this track, Atramentus fuses delicate melodies and synthesizers. With the layered ambiance and soft vocals beautifully aligned, the guitars sound denser when suddenly the drums execute some blast beats. Without emphasizing the complexity, Atramentus treads solemnly along the musical patterns of the Finnish originators Thergothon.
Towards epic heights they have filled their music with majestic soundscapes and beautiful sonic ornaments so that the listener would find solace. These Canadians have emerged as true torchbearers that make their music a true counterpart of nineties classics such as Skepticism‘s debut album ‘Stormcrowfleet‘ and Thergothon‘s ‘Stream from the Heavens‘. Therefore, ‘Stygian‘ shines like a gleaming star on a moonless night. The debut voyages through an epic and gloomy realm, making each moment of its length a worthy listen to the fans of this sub-genre.
Release Date: 21st August, 2020
Label: 20 Buck Spin
- Stygian I: From Tumultuous Heavens… (Descended Forth The Ceaseless Darkness)
- Stygian II: In Ageless Slumber (As I Dream In The Doleful Embrace Of The Howling Black Winds)
- Stygian III: Perennial Voyage (Across The Perpetual Planes Of Crying Frost & Steel-Eroding Blizzards)