REVIEWED: Atavist - 'III: Absolution'
Aptly, there's something timeless about Atavist. Derived from a term for reversion to past ways of thinking and acting. While music rarely gets old fashioned and truly irrelevant bar the odd trend, listening to the Manchester assemble evokes a feeling of a bygone age, the soundtrack to a funeral of a great yet tragically flawed figure. Of course, impressive regal power is expected in a band that comprises members of Winterfylleth, the prolific and elegant black metallers. As unhurried as Winterylleth harry, previous release 'II: Ruined' dropped a decade ago, four years after their self titled, but it's been worth the wait, especially if you're a fan of My Dying Bride/Paradise Lost who's been waiting for Anathema to get back to the heavier stuff.
For those not in the know, Atavist are at the opposite end of the speed scale from Winterfylleth. Long, slow, drawn out passages of feedback and strummed chords are the order of the day and into the night and back into the day. And by drawn out, we mean draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn out. This is a band you need to clear your schedule for so you can sink into four tracks over the course of an hour. We don't get much call for radio-friendly three minuters in the Dark Matter universe, but even then this Atavist has a pace that could be described as leisurely if it wasn't so intense. The previous two records have always been ardent in their furious grief, (relatively) quick to begat their pounding fury in the form of heavy bass and screamed vocals. But there's something more contemplative in 'III: Absolution'.
Opener 'Loss' begins with trembling organ-esque guitar strum and the tenderist of strings. Then the main procession hits you like grief and it won't let go. In the last 10 years, they've learnt a thing or two about songcraft in the meantime, and the improvement is phenomenal. The previous two records were no slouches when it came to the stately paced funeral doom template, but time has seen an extra layer of grandiosity and emotional rawness permeate the writing across each of the four tracks. 'Stuggle' is a nervy tremelo-packed lament and paint-stripping roars. 'Self-Realisation' is a dense claustrophobic mesh of chords and racing heart bass that keeps you pinned until the soundscapes of 'Absolution' round out the last quarter hour with deep mournful synths onto which a galaxy spanning procession of riffs is piled on. And on. And on. Until gradually they have played their part, and we're once more gently sent back into the real world on the wisps of delicate violin motifs that play out until absolutely certain it's time to let you go.
If ever you've suffered loss, endured grief and weathered uncertainty, there's plenty to love on 'III: Absolution'. A record that at all times feels timeless; a shifting coalescence of cacophony and contemplation that takes all the venom of previous lyrics and paints the world in further shades of black.
'Absolution III' is out now on Candlelight/Spinefarm