Atavist: III – Absolution: Album Review

Atavist are back having reformed in 2017 after a ten year hiatus. As one of the UK’s most devastating death/doom bands, they have returned with a new album; III: Absolution.

Released: 19th June 2020

Label: Candlelight Records

Formats: CD / LP / Digital

Atavist are a brutally aural force to be reckoned with. Winterfylleth guitarist and vocalist, C. Naughton, along with bassist S. Ryan, drummer C. Cox and vocalist T. Bradshaw, weld an unrelenting mix of death / doom metal together.

Spanning four long pieces and clocking in at just shy of an hour, Atavist’s third full length outing is not for the feint of heart.

Loss opens the album in slow, lamenting fashion. A strummed guitar and the gradual addition of drums build towards a monolithic mix of guitars and snarled vocals. These motifs continue throughout but the variety of style contained in the sixteen minute piece is mesmerising.

Jo Quail appears to be cellist to the metal world. She has worked with MONO and My Dying Bride as well as featuring on recent Winterfylleth albums. Her mournful bowed melodies on Loss add a grandeur that enhances the dark atmosphere of the piece. Coupled with Bianca Blezard’s work on the violin, the closing strains of Loss are unwaveringly cinematic. Going full circle; strummed guitars play out the opener.

Struggle follows and whilst Loss is sombre, this is gratuitusly grave. Slow, trudging drums rumble around another monstrous and slow guitar tone as the vocals become more aggressive. Whilst the pace is slow, to get this sound so right and befitting to the aura wanted is a real art. I believe the art of drumming in this doomy style is to be applauded massively. It is hypnotic.

There is a drone to Struggle that will have you under it’s spell. It gives the piece peaks and troughs that keep the piece interesting. Some of the shifts in guitar tone really enhance the miserable nature of the song too. It is oppresive and claustrophobic.

This is a soundtrack that travels through the depths of human emotion, from losing everything, mourning loss, realising your own mind, right through to finding your way again. Ultimately finding Absolution at the end of that journey. There is no joy here, only relief at the end of an arduous voyage.

Guitarist C. Naughton

Self Realisation is the shortest piece on the album. There is a glimmer of light in some of the guitars as they ring out in melody. Any light is stripped away through the devastating vocals, and the ominous chiming bell that adorns the track. The low end of the mix is again shattering and the bulldozer nature of the kick drums that bookend the song are brutal in the mix.

Mark Deeks (of Winterfylleth) features on the album. His synth landscapes have enhanced Winterfylleth’s sound; and the same methods are employed here.

The title track of the album, Absolution, opens with swirling bleak synths. Again, it is a moment of slight light in amongst an utterly bleak piece. As the rest of the band add their own instrumentation to the song, the abonimable growth of the piece is again oppresive.

That being said, there are lighter notes in a sparse guitar line that add a nice juxtaposition and show in music the movement from dark to light and a will to pull through. An inspired guitar solo that is simple in nature adds more to the idea of absolution.

Quail, Blezard and Deeks add their amazing flouishes to the closing strains of an album that is challenging, thought provoking and cathartic.

III: Absolution is crushing. It is loud, harsh, slow and bleak. Atmosphere is everything and Atavist deliver in spades.

You can pre-order the album here.

Atavist: Bandcamp / Facebook

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