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Review : Atramentus - Stygian by Metal-Temple

Via Metal Temple : "ATRAMENTUS is a funereal doom/dark ambient band from the frozen north of Canada.  They formed in 2012 and are now releases their debut album “Stygian.” This is a concept album telling the story of of the nameless knight. After being granted immortality, he eventually lives long enough to witness the our sun finally burning out.  He survives the freezing of Earth and watches as everything on the planet dies while he is unable to.  He wanders among the ruins mentally haunted by his memories and knowing everyone he never knew is buried

under miles of ice.

I write stories as well so I know a compelling concept when I read one and “Stygian’s” concept is immediately engrossing in its personal tragedy.  The songs themselves each reflect the changing of autumn to this unending winter and I can definitely hear and feel the album getting even darker and colder as it plays out. So what about these songs? Are they as interesting as the story line makes them seem to be?  You bet your frozen ass they are.  “Stygian” is an absolute towering monster of an album that embraces its funeral doom sound while also setting itself apart from the crowd.

The three tracks that make up the album’s 44 minute runtime are more like ethereal experiences than actual songs.  They, of course, eschew normal structural conventions and their formless bodies move ever forward both story wise and musically.  None of the various movements and experiences that make up the songs are repeated so the whole experience is a very organic one in which it unfolds before you like any other type of medium with a story.

The difference with “Stygian” is that you don’t watch it or read it: you feel it within your bones.  This album just totally encompasses your very being so when you’re listening to it. Make sure you have the time to fully absorb it because the engrossing music will grab you, hold you tight, and not let you pay attention to the outside world.  It is sort of like an out of body experience…you exist but you’re on the outside looking in at this bleak, cold but hellish world.

The three tracks are obviously meant to be listened straight through in one sitting but if you can’t, the first and last tracks (the bulk of the album) are more than well written enough to enjoy on their own if you only have time for one.  The middle track, “Stygian II” is a shorter, more ambient piece that is extremely effective when taken as a whole with the rest of the album but it isn’t the type of song that most people will choose to listen to separately.

The instrumentation isn’t chaotic, or very fast obviously, but it is busy, especially for funereal doom.  There is always something going on, always icy layers being formed into a monolith of death.  Sometimes it is the clean keyboards that take focus, other times the heavy backdrop of guitars dig in deep as stalwart structures of frozen permanence. Regardless of what instrument takes the approach, the music is always building this now alien version of our planet, changing the landscapes and atmosphere to bring about the frozen decay.

As I listened to the album, I realized that it is more than a harrowing story of unending death and survival but it is also a personal reflection to each of us.  We don’t know the nameless knight but we can identity with him and his personal struggles.  After all, each of us will, at some point, experience death as well. We will watch loved ones, family and friends, die before our own time is up.  As we wait for our own perpetual blackness, we too will be left with our thoughts and cry out for what we have lost.  Fortunately, we don’t live forever unlike the nameless knight but while we are alive, the pain of our existence never really ends.

ATRAMENTUS’ “Stygian” is one hell of an album to make me think of such deep thoughts and confront my own mortality and pain.  The emotional impact this album can bring is universal to most humans on the planet.  Unfortunately, most humans don’t listen to doom metal bur for those lucky few, this album will take you on a journey to the heart of oblivion and leave you shivering to your core.

Songwriting: 9

Musicianship: 9

Memorability: 9

Production: 9"

Originally written by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier for

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