These two entities and numbers go together well as Evoken’s brand new album “Atra Mors” is the 100th release for Profound Lore Records, a top-quality label for which many metallers by now go basically almost blindly. And no better choice could be done for this double celebration. The relationship between Evoken and Profound Lore is recent. After years of interaction with European labels (Avantgarde Music and I Hate Records) the band literally crossed back the ocean and landed in the roster of the Canadian label devoted to the darkest and most original shades of doom, black and death metal. Some sort of relationship was actually already existent due to the direct and indirect connection of Evoken’s band members with Disma, one of the monster old-school death metal bands in the roster of the label. Evoken’s new album Atra Mors was released on July 31st 2012 and is the fifth LP released after five years from the last monumental full-length album “A Caress of the Void”.
The new album is stunningly beautiful and somehow embodies the different souls of the label. At the same time Atra Mors testifies a certain degree of evolution in the style of this long-lived and very “solid” band in the Olympus of funeral doom death for many years. When dealing with Evoken scary monumental albums must be expected, i.e. easy 70 minutes-long. Atra Mors is no exception, as you have to expect 1 hour 7 minutes for eight tracks. Six tracks last between 9 and 12 minutes, with two shorter tracks acting as intervals. When not in the length, it is in the style that present-day Evoken are somehow different from what came years before. The sources of inspiration of Evoken’s style are still clear and solid as huge basalt pillars: the Finnish pioneers Thergothon (from which Evoken draw their name), the Australian doom-deathsters Dismbowelment and the early Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride. The new album still possesses a traditional background style consisting of monumental sounds and dark melodies which resonate somehow more severe than melancholic. Roaring riffs get developed and worked out slowly and painfully by the grim but sober growl emitted by John Paradiso over a sound carpet where the thundering and war-like drumming is blended with the atmospheres exhaled by keyboards. Nevertheless all this scary wall of sound is being mitigated, or just embellished by a substantial load of melody and a wider range of sonic features. Hence Atra Mors is very melodic but no less heavy than the previous albums! This is a giant album by length but it is characterized by a richness of shades and features making it flow like the intriguing development of a grim gothic fairy tale.
The variety in the singing features is impressive, as occult-sounding growls pass to clean, to spoken vocals and even to some severe monk chanting. Also there is a frequent employment of sober and gracefully intimate acoustic intervals where guitar, cello or piano create a haunting alchemy with the rawness of the dirty and twisted doom riffs and periodical brutal assaults bearing a genuine old school death metal flavour. All this effectively contributes in turning this slab of an album into a majestic kaleidoscope and in somehow exploiting the remarkable length of the suites for developing the richness of sounds which definitely stray from the boundaries of funeral doom death metal. Atmospheres created by Evoken range from ethereal to lush to martial to breathlessly abyssal, and make the new album a challenging one, for sure, but also dynamic and thus attractive. The adoption of substantial amounts of melody and the variations employed by the band in their style, together with the act of “crossing the ocean” and basically of getting professionally back to their continent for a double solemn celebration, recalled in me echoes heard in the “oceanic” band by definition devoted to a somehow similar majestic down-tempo genre, the German act Ahab and their solemn and charming album The Giant. Well, Evoken’s Atra Mors is sounding to me a bit less funereal than what hinted by the album and by the ghastly, cemeterial track titles. The sounds actually evoked in me images or sensations as if the band were celebrating concepts like the implacable laws of Nature, the greatness of the World (or of the cosmos) and the frailty if not the nothingness, of human beings. So, due to this epic and, let’s say cosmic, feelings, the album actually recalled me the sensations felt while listening to Ahab’s The Giant, as if I were experiencing a sort of “oceanic”-like terrestrial doom, with what this implies for those who heard and appreciated Ahab as well. For their twentieth anniversary Evoken forged a surely solemn and oppressive but multifaceted doom ceremony which suggests that the band is far from being trapped in a rigid style and is still evolving. I guess Profound Lore Records could hardly have chosen a better, more solid album than this one for the celebration of the 100th release in its amazing catalogue: an album made by an impressively long-lived underground heavy band, which is synthetically incorporating the various souls of the label and which is opening to new horizons.
Another album to have …
Words: Marilena Moroni
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Evoken – Atra Mors