AtriarchI guess if you put Atriarch’s musical philosophy into words it would be “We’re fucked.” At least that’s my impression from this their third album and first for Relapse.

This flat, doom riddled expression though is pushed differently enough even from the opening of ‘Entropy’, when the downward sliding nasal vocals come across a little like Refused playing a blackened, sludgy Swans through a Neurosis riff. A convoluted way of saying they are different, and in a good way. Just not in a happy way. This is bleak stuff, Highgate and Agruss bleak but still with an energy and a momentum and a definite sense of variation in texture that occasionally brings The Axis Of Perdition to mind too.

So yeah, pretty much “Jeez…. We are so fucked… ”

Split into seven tracks, this is still somehow best thought of as a whole piece. Or at least one experience. There is a death rock sensibility to the down-tuned melodies herein, particularly when allied to the cleaner vocals, but you are equally never far away from that apocalyptic Neurosis sound of ebb and flow riff walls and pounding tribal drumming crashing in. We go through quieter passages, but even though they might be restrained they are never gentle. There is a bass heavy resonance underlying everything, a vibration that is deeply unsettling. ‘Collapse’ follows ‘Entropy’ with an almost Melechesh swirl initially and a grimness that has that early Swans abandon-hope. Hypnotic, rhythmic, echoing; really if you’re not hooked by the time the drum ‘n’ riff wave breaks you should just leave because this is where you lose sight of the exit with ‘Revenant’. Slow, caustic with almost choral, kind of blackened choir, vocals this circles and haunts you, the refrain coming around in an inevitable circle snarl and distorted howls. This is the noise of the crawlspace, the place between the collapse of cities and whatever else pushes into the vacuum with the bellows of ‘Bereavement’. ‘Rot’ is the held moment, rippling drum and simple notes building behind a worrying collection of voices and a sludge riff twisting into a slow Neurosis thunderhead and fading into ‘Allfather’. Bitter black tranquillity. Echoing vocals. Moments of tempest, falling riffs and tumbling voices, Atriarch at their most Neurosis. ‘Veil’ is drawn with a final turn into a deeply black metal sludge, driving riffs and snarling, drawn vocals. Five minutes of final violence before the harsh, unforgiving fade.

And we are out.

This is pretty uncompromising stuff; bitter, black, nasty and without hope. If there is a sense of catharsis it wasn’t there for me. This is pretty much staring into the abyss and not caring when the abyss stares back. For those moments when you really don’t give a fuck about what is beyond your four walls, Atriarch’s unending path is there for you.

(8/10 Gizmo)