Most Australian bands with a black touch that have corrupted my ears in the last decade or so have been utterly barbaric, a sonic nightmare realised within perpetual aural terror. Atra Vetosus is headed by Josh Young who also has Astral Winter as another project as this release has a limited edition run of 500 CDs which is likely to make it collectable in the future. Breezing through the bands 2013 opus a melodic black methodology was deployed that is distinctly familiar but also extremely well executed tunes that boast influences such as Dissection, Borknagar and to some extent Dimmu Borgir of their early era material.
Bravely this EP contains just one track something that has been done before in various genres but generally of the black variety where experimentation and sonic visualisation manifests itself during its 22 minute foray into mind melting melodic blackness . Translating as ‘The Right Of Life And Death’ if internet translations are correct the cover art depicts an autumnal scene of an altar with a woman laid across it covered in flora tendrils it seems and in some respects that depiction matches the musical content of the track in question. Beginning with the oft used thunder sounds and rainfall the track has a steady build up and gradual fade in that is moody and encapsulated in despondent sadness. Immediately the work of Burzum comes to mind with the eerie atmospherics and almost narcotic escalation within the songs fabric. Adding various subtle elements like poignant guitar strokes, backing keyboards a solemn and virtual funereal aura is perceived that remains for about four minutes before the guitar announces itself in typically strident sorrowfulness. With a symphonic blanket taking over the pace is increased gently but still shrouded in mysticism as the harsh vocals jut into the tune without warning and it is this aspect that makes me think about Burzum but also Drudkh and Khors due to clean paganistic vocal chants that filter through. Typically the pace is intensified towards blast territory and it is these fluctuations in pace coupled to softer more translucent musicianship that makes the arrangements of this release extremely gratifying to listen to.
Comparatively there are many acts producing immense releases in this sub-genre but here the band sees fit to branch out a little by incorporating ambient passages and also dropping the pace into a haunting piano section that possibly could have been arranged smoother but is a minor point overall. As the piano sweeps you into darkened nostalgia the Eastern European pagan black metal slant becomes more evident and is one I particularly enjoyed here. An acoustic guitar is sprinkled into the mix that adds considerable tenderness to the song before a lead guitar break is pinned to the top that sits a little uncomfortably initially but soon nestles into your head very sweetly and catalyses the return to more rancorous dominions of blasting and assaulting savagery. This section fades and unveils acoustic guitar again but with rain effects that push the song to its close.
This may not be the most ambitious composition you’ll ever hear but its steadfast authenticity and emotive delivery is one you can immerse yourself in for 22 minutes of ambient melodic bliss.
(7.5/10 Martin Harris)