Towards Atlantis Lights brings together members of various bands including Pantheist and Void Of Silence, who have crafted an album utilising experiences based on historic events. However, be under no illusion, this is no mere retrospective tale in the style of Iron Maiden; dark emotion is at play here and the band weave doom metal shapes without being simply constrained by that genre. Comprising four tracks, “Dust Of Aeons” promises to be a bold, epic aural journey.
The melancholy richness of 30 minute opening track “The Bunker Of Life” immediately displays the conceptual grandeur the band is aiming for. The production is clean with a depth that is mournful and atmospheric. A layered, clean vocal from Kostas Panagiotou comes in with subtle piano adding a shroud of mysticism. There’s an elegance and allure as the next movement introduces softer keys and a hushed, growled vocal behind a spoken word passage that pushes the track into a more dystopian direction without losing any of its resplendence. Wonderfully crafted and dripping with emotive weight, this isn’t traditional doom and there are shades of the funereal style of Illimitable Dolor, but this has a far more progressive slant. The guitar is sparse which enhances the mood before a darker turn at around the 10 minute mark where Ivano Olivieri’s percussion starts to push a little harder and that guitar finds a new and sinister depth – down tuned but kept cleaner than one might expect which is in keeping with the overall structure of the track. This is not simply background music but an intelligent, concise and thoughtful composition created with depth, atmosphere and subtlety. Lock the front door, turn out the lights and allow generous volume to let this piece wash over the senses. The interplay between the clean and growled vocals gives it a powerful duality. Expect no blunt force trauma here because there’s a rare sensitivity that adds far more weight. At 20 minutes all the elements continue to combine and build creating a very gradual lift that is as enthralling as it is hypnotic. Only rarely is a percussive attack hinted at and is just enough to keep that lift going. A ceremonial mysticism develops in the final five minutes and a realisation that half an hour has absolutely flown by as a sorrowful soundscape is laid bare before us. A wonderfully smooth bass combines for a magnificent rhythm section as piano leads us towards the close.
Where to after this? The far briefer excursion of “Babylon’s Hanging Gardens” is gentle and sorrowful. Starkly beautiful, it has haunting acoustic textures used so effectively by the likes of artists like Darkher. A grittier bite to Ivan Zara’s riffs starts to appear before the next big track arrives in the form of the 16 minute “Alexandria’s Library”. More doom laden and overlaid with cold death metal growls there’s a more caustic dirge to their sound. They again manage to create a lumbering sense of ascension with an arcane aura as the track shifts to its’ second movement with simple, elegant guitar notes floating alongside the clean, soothing vocals. Again, the mix of the vocal style adds an odd warmth combined with sparing use of atmospheric effects. The slight pick up in pace creates a psychedelic drama that is a little reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “Ummagumma” era and is suddenly brought back to a deathly slow, heavily sludged up riff backed by some lovely drum fills that keep things aloft. Sudden directional shifts highlight the band’s ability to avoid the predictable. Highly emotive and with a strong sense of sincerity, it’s a neat prelude to closer “Greeting Mausolus’ Tomb” with its’ regretful retrospection that scorns the bleakness that has gone before.
”Dust Of Aeons” is a stunning display of majesty and restrained power. Better described as an engaging piece of art, it is a masterfully crafted piece of music that rewards close attention. The band have clearly allowed themselves the time and space to create a work as impressive as this and the reward lies with the listener.
(9/10 Johnny Zed)