This debut album from North Carolina outfit Atten Ash originally was released independently in 2012. Now it gets some proper attention via Hypnotic Dirge records and well it should considering this band comprises of Barre Gambling of Daylight Dies along with Jason Greene and Archie Hunt (of Legion Of The Fallen). It should therefore come as no surprise that this lot play atmospheric death doom and they have the style firmly grasped even if this is a first release. Apart from this they have just done a short one track each split with Lycanthia containing the opening track from this album so I guess there is a good chance that they could well have some more material coming in the pipeline soon.
The 8 tracks we have here have an epic feel and one that is totally mature too and as ‘City In The Sea’ heftily comes in and the deathly craggy and weathered harsh vocals from Hunt, growl formidably booming out the speakers it’s obvious that this lot are far from mere beginners. The guitar work drenches it all in lush but maudlin melody and this glistens and gleams richly, the weight of the drumming bowing you down but the flagrant riffing also picking you up and carrying you off. There are some clean vocals in the background here courtesy of Greene but as we will hear as things progress these are going to take centre stage later. There is a very Scandinavian feel about things, mid era Opeth, Katatonia and Insomnium’s spirits all dwell within it as well as naturally Daylight Dies and Novembers Doom. It might not be the most original album you are going to hear and indeed the weeping guitar lines of ‘See You…Never’ also cite early Anathema and Paradise Lost Atten Ash are well versed but add plenty of their own definition to things. The craggy, weathered vocals are particularly impressive and would give the likes of Ahab a run for their money and as for the melodicism it drenches you and really gets beneath the skin.
Lyrically I notice that a couple of the tracks (there should maybe have been a clue in the title of the first) take inspiration from Edgar Allen Poe, the second of these ‘Not As Others Were’ is a sombre and reflective ode taken from his poem Alone and its perfect for dark night solitude listening, curled up with a glass of red wind and some good literature. You really do notice the full effect when the clean vocals take over on ‘Song For The Dead’ bringing a different definition to the sound and somewhat lightning the mood as the soar away with heartfelt passion behind them. There’s a fair bit of instrumental noodling on this one too as the band breathe air into things and naturally coast along; an impressive display all round. Both vocal styles are brought into play on ‘Born’ and the meandering fronds from the guitar spread ever further; spring is perhaps in the air and things are coming to life. It’s still ultimately dour and doomed though, you feel like frost is going to sweep back in and kill everything off. ‘Waves Of Siloam’ is a faster paced and more urgent number which sees the band happily battering the drums and flailing away more, there’s plenty of head-banging ballast about it. Before all the sand drains out there is time for the title track to harmoniously finish things for now but I have the feeling that this is a tale with plenty more chapters in it to come.
(8/10 Pete Woods)