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Review : Atramentus - Stygian by EsotericaCodex

Via EsotericaCodex : "Freezing. Paralyzing. Desolate. Suffocating. Ancient. These words all perfectly describe and ultimately black-out the canvas of soot that Atramentus use to cover your rotting casket as their debut album “Stygian” blasts six feet above ground to the mourning in your loved one’s tears as they say their final goodbyes. Atramentus is not exactly a new comer to Metal. Formed in 2012 in Quebec, Canada, Philippe Tougas ( CHTHE’ILIST and FUNEBRARUM) wrote the band’s debut album “Stygian” and shelved it away for many years. Tougas did eventually assemble a full line-up but the album would not be recorded until December of 2018. The band self-recorded and self-produced their debut album and were eventually signed by 20 Buck Spin. That’s just the Cliff Notes version of the band’s wretched history. For a Funeral Doom band taking that long to release any sort of material, I would say that was the right amount of time to properly execute an album that at times is an even more extreme version of all Funeral Doom that has comes before them. Even Death Doom in certain moments. In the last handful of years both sub genres have seen amazing and soul-crushing releases by Evoken, Loss, Spectral Voice, Bell Witch, Lycus, etc. “Stygian” feels like the slowest and most overwhelmingly misery-induced coldness and dread of all of the bands and stretches those heart-tearing low chords and vocals that give Demilich a run for their money. Yet at the same time of course this band owns just as much as the pioneers of Funeral Doom such as Skepticism, and Therogothon.

Only 3 songs all clocking in at a total of forty four minutes and forty nine seconds yet “Stygian” at times is more than just another Funeral Doom to blast and annoy your friends, loved ones, family, neighbors just so you can clear the room out just so you can have a bit of social distancing. Ultimately yourself this is music you want to fucking torture yourself into listening and seeing if you can take the pressure of giving it the full album treatment. As absurd as that may sound, it’s actually hilarious in a grave-like humor sort of way, even if there is nothing funny about this album to begin with. The first song titled “Stygian I: From Tumultuous Heavens… (Descended Forth The Ceaseless Darkness)” starts out with the obvious slow piano keys that one would hear echoing through the corridors of eternal darkness. Then the low gutteral frog vokills come in and it’s an immediate drop into the frozen chasm that is the void that “Stygian” engulfs. Composition wise, it’s slow dying riff after crashing drums with some slow double kick mixed-in. But the ambient keys and overall atmosphere is where the strength lies in this band. Tune low all you want, but when it comes to Funeral Doom, you HAVE to create an atmosphere where the light of God himself is completely absent. Right around the 4:30 minute mark of the first track (as heard in the Youtube sample clip above) is where you get an actual clear picture of how completely fucking vacant that void Atramentus helps create is. The second track “Stygian II: In Ageless Slumber (As I Dream In The Doleful Embrace Of The Howling Black Winds)” is a pure instrumental track which is nothing but dark ambient music which sounds like the score to an 80’s horror movie where an ancient evil presence is draining the life force out of evil murderous humans in a ice-freezing cold citadel somewhere high in the mountains amidst during a snow storm and there is no way to escape it. At this point, I legit can see my breath in front of my face as I listen to the track while I am typing this. My blood has frozen solid and I am trapped in river of Cocytus chained to Him; the fallen one. The first to rebel. The final song on this agonizing motherfucker of an album is simply titled “Stygian III: Perennial Voyage (Across The Perpetual Planes Of Crying Frost & Steel-Eroding Blizzards)“. As if this goddamn album didn’t want to remind you that you are listening to it as a new release in the misery-inducing bullshit planet year of 2020, well it’s just going to swallow whatever hope you had for the next 30 years and shit all-over it. Forget it, there is no escape from the asphyxiating and stifling darkness. There is a small break from the ongoing lumbering funeral dirge requiem this song is and builds up to a wall of guitar solo which then evolves in a violent and destructive shattering barrage of black metal riffs. A storm of freezing tremolo that slowly fades away and all you hear are the winds and dark ambiance. Thus ending our journey into the heart of darkness.

Lyrically…this album reads like sort of ancient concept story of god-knows what. I’ll give you an excerpt of the lyrical “passages”:

Alone & isolated from the outside world, I slumber through the ages. No dread and sorrow nor pain to feel, but only the eternal utter blackness in the dreamless void. I feel at peace here, but at times when I think I am truly safe, a glimpse of a troubled memory resurfaces and dissipates as soon as it manifested itself. Long have I yearned to learn to ignore the echoes of the waking world for they are not for me to be concerned about anymore. I plunge deeper into the dreamless pits of nothingness, seeking my eternal refuge in the silent embrace of the void.

Past the musical composition, the lyrical themese, the artwork is absolutely gorgeous. A stunningly beautiful and depressing painting done by Polish artist Mariusz Lewandowski who (if you know your artwork history) has done commissioned album artwork for bands such as Bellwitch, Mizmor, and Abigail Williams. The image of an ancient warrior left in the aftermath of a barren, hopeless planet once called Earth is facing the fathomless and faceless ghosts of the past as he himself cannot die in a world where the sun has gone supernova has extinguished all of what once lived there. A desolate realm of where one has immortality gifted by the universal creator only to be suspended in perpetual freezing agony never able to be free of his constant pain. Forever suffering. “Stygian” may just as well be the ultimate expression of how the year of 2020 has been for everyone: long, agonizing, and a world without end. This album is catharsis. AtramentusStygian” is now available on 20 Buck Spin. Also if I were you, I would pick-up one of those sweet ass fucking longsleeve “Stygian” 4-sided print."

Originally written by Sean Wright for

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