Thursday, November 8, 2012

Evoken - Atra Mors (2012)

This is easily the best album the band has released since 2001's Quietus (not counting the absolutely extraordinary '2002 Promo'). 'Antithesis of Light' was cool enough, but I wasn't terribly jazzed to hear the reworkings of the songs that were lifted from the band's 2002 promo. It sounded as if they were scrambling for material in order to get an LP out in circulation and kind of haphazardly strung together pieces of those songs, thus canceling out their initial vibe, not to mention that those songs, in their original form, sounded infinitely better with the more rusty and stripped down sound of the 2002 promo.

2007's A Caress of the Void, while not a bad album by any means, failed to really captivate my imagination and crush my soul the way 'Quietus' had. There were certainly moments scattered throughout that caught my ear but on a whole I really didn't find the experience all that memorable.

Enter 'Atra Mors': It's obvious to me that the 5 year wait ( 2 if you count the split with Beneath the Frozen Soil) was exactly what Evoken needed in order to reassess the situation and once more trudge onwards through the icy graveyards of the band's collective subconscious in order to cull only the finest (ie rotten and decrepit) elements needed to construct such a towering and colossal monolith as they have with this release.

Atra Mors is without a doubt a return to form for Evoken. I was worried there for a while that the band may have lost a goodly sum of their spectral mojo, but those fears quickly dissipated once the ghostly presence of the first track made its presence known, ever so faintly... perfectly.

On top of the returning vibe of old, this is also the bands most progressive release to date. There are moments when I am reminded of Hawkwind, oddly enough, though it actually fits in perfectly as those sections are layered with an eerie heaviness and the vibe always remains ethereal yet unmistakably funeral overall. In the hands of a lesser band, perhaps these moments would come across as awkward or even worse, comical, but Evoken manages to incorporate these alien elements into their mass of sound, thus opening the door to yet another cosmic corridor for you to wander through, eventually losing yourself within the labyrinth that is Atra Mors. More likely than not, this will be my album of the year.

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