Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Atriarch: An Unending Pathway (2014)


The last time I talked about Atriarch, I focused on how they combine doom with punk’s equivalent of doom, deathrock. I said they were like a cross between My Dying Bride and Christian Death. But the more I listened to An Unending Pathway, the more I realized they are true spiritual successors to My Dying Bride.

I don’t have a handle on how well-regarded MDB are in general. Their name doesn’t seem to come up a lot. But to me they’re important, as they were one of the first bands that really struck a chord with me as I was getting into underground metal. And their prominent gothic influences, it would seem, were well ahead of their time.* That time is now, and the torch is passed to Atriarch.

The gothic clean vocals and slow pace are obvious MDB parallels, but there’s a key pattern that keeps repeating throughout An Unending Pathway. A doom riff punctuated with not-quite-squealing high notes. Crunch-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-AAAIII-OH. Or something like that anyway. Hey, maybe I shouldn’t get into the business of transcribing metal riffs into onomatopoeia. The vocals here aren’t quite as emotive as what you’d find in the classic MDB releases, but sometimes those can be a bit melodramatic. This may be received better.

As spiritual successors rather than mere imitators, Atriarch take those elements into a more modern scheme. That means an increased emphasis on atmosphere, interesting drum patterns, and judicious use of repetition, in a mold quite like Unearthly Trance. If anything, though, it’s more economical than most doom bands that focus on atmosphere, with track lengths mostly between four and six minutes. They also take on black metal (“Bereavement”) and a sort-of-tribal, sort-of-Middle Eastern thing (“Collapse”).

Serious gothic-influenced doom metal is an idea whose time has come, and Atriarch have a good handle on what they can do with it. The melody-writing isn’t quite to MDB’s level yet, but for now I’ll be content with what they’ve created.

The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars

*With bands like Beastmilk, Atriarch, and Pinkish Black getting so much attention, could we see a revived interest in MDB’s legacy?

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