Atriarch’s doom demands societal scrutiny

At the risk of sounding somewhat lazy, the debut long-player from doom machine Atriarch is one of the coolest albums I’ve heard this summer. It just wretches and moans, slithers and bleeds, and really, it’s not even a classic sounding metal album. It basically achieves metal-dom on sheer volume and sinister sonic intent alone.

The description given to describe “Forever the End” is deathrock, and that’s fitting, but there’s really a lot more to it. There’s drone, ambient, post-metal and funeral doom passages as well, and really, the four-track album is kind of a giant, thick stew of many, many different ingredients. You can’t really point to one thing and expect people unaware of the group to understand what they’re in for once you stop talking and they start listening. That’s another part of the band and this effort that excites me. I’ve had people ask me what Atriarch sound like, and I typically respond with, “I don’t know. Listen for yourself.” That probably sounds really jerky, but it’s true, and I’m not trying to be difficult. The band itself is made up of members of groups such as Graves at Sea, Trees (a personal favorite), and Final Conflict, and you certainly can pick out traits of those machines, but they’re only there in trace amounts. This is altogether different.

Lyrically, “Forever the End” reaches beyond the typical doom fare. It’s a more exploratory, self-aware album, one that doesn’t fall to the genre’s typically morbid underpinnings that you’d expect from most bands in this genre. Not that there isn’t darkness. Ah, screw it. Let’s allow frontman and lyricist Lenny Smith to tell it: “We are bombarded with ideals of a superficial shallow lifestyle, in which we are enslaved to maintain. Greed, corruption, fear, and hate is the true face of this self-serving way of life that we have come to call normal. Lose yourself inside the ritual and the veil will come crashing down around us all.” So, there. At least you know from where these guys are coming philosophically, and that should prepare you for this adventure.

Atriarch waste no time bringing you into this thing, as they kick off the album with “Plague,” a slow-moving, spacey type of song that finds Smith warbling painfully, mournfully and deeply over the thing. That leads into “Shadows,” a sci-fi-bent tune that has a melody line that reminds me a bit of Wolves in the Throne Room’s “A Looming Resonance” from “Malevolent Grain.” A rich, ever-present synth backbone is there (and actually makes its presence known over the course of the entire record, giving it a spaceship-arriving type of personality), and finally we begin to hear some of the metallic uprising as Smith goes for lurching, guttural growling toward the last half of the song. The 14-minute epic “Fracture” is the centerpiece of “Forever the End,” with its melodic, yet morose composition, tempo changes, occasional savagery, and Smith going from abrasive growl to tortured croon. It’s a fantastic song, one of the most adventurous, interesting, riveting pieces of doom to come down the hill in some time, and no matter what I’m doing when I hear it, I never realize the song is as long as it is. Finisher “Downfall” has a bit of a Neurosis edge to it, and it’s easily the record’s most volcanic piece, with chaos and noise spewing out of every corner, eventually allowing itself to bleed out mercifully. It’s a fitting cap to a record that toys with your emotions and tests your will. It wants you to think and examine your surroundings, not just be overcome with violent catharsis that compels you to punch a friend in the face at a show. It’s way deeper than that.

While we’re praising the band, we also should compliment Seventh Rule, who never seem to misfire when signing a new band. They brought us the mighty new Batillus record earlier in the year, and that remains a favorite to place highly on the 2011 Top 10 list, and they have other killer acts they’ve exposed such as Lord Mantis, Millions, and Indian. Seventh Rule doesn’t put out a ton of albums each year, but what they do you can be assured they hand-selected with the greatest of care. You know you’re getting a band in which the label truly believes. Atriarch simply is the latest conquest for Seventh Rule, and “Forever the End” is one of those albums that I imagine will stick with you years from now as society continues to spiral out of control, and those of us with the proper awareness will need a place to go and search for a way to cope.

For more on the band, go here:

To buy “Forever the End,” go here:

For the label’s site, go here: