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CD Review: EVOKEN Atra Mors

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Maybe it has something to do with apocalyptic musings given to the year, but 2012 has already seen a lions share of bellowing, doom riddled goodness. Thankfully, too, that club is joined by funeral doom masters Evoken with their long awaited Atra Mors out on Profound Lore July 31st of this year. A milestone album for the label; it’ll be their 100th official release. No doubt, then, a lot of thought was put into what band, what upcoming album could carry the weight of such an occasion. After giving Atra Mors a few spins (and a handful more for good measure) it’s apparent that this must have been a fairly easy choice.

Being Evoken’s first album in five years, it should come as no surprise that there’s a clear progression in their sound; more fluid, though not “polished”. That said, there’s no need to fear a loss of grittiness to any given track. There’s still the newly unearthed, weighty rawness that the band evokes so well. The breadth of the sound on Mors is undeniably vast, at times caked with moss, soaked in melancholy and at others commanding and assertive in its aggression. The ebb and flow in this regard, as well as the smartly placed and arguably integral segue way tracks, keep the listener entranced from start to finish.

Slowly opening up the album is the title track, “Atra Mors”, reminding the listener exactly what kind of creature they’ll be dealing with on the album; ominous and expansive. From here the album takes moments to lighten up on tracks like “Decent into Frantic Dream”, incorporating more fragile sounding strings and percussion, while still holding onto an undeniable aura of desperation. Towards the end of the album resides the stand-out track “The Unechoing Dread”; a song that seems to battle within itself. Brandishing elements of death metal and doom creating an air of both triumph and defeat, the song gives way to the more somber yet equally as powerful closing track “Into Aphotic Devestation”.

Evoken have helped pave the way for many in the realm of doom metal, and it’s refreshing to see them not only coming out with new music, but doing so while giving newcomers a run for their money. While there may be no shortage of funeral doom out today, it takes an articulate ensemble to stand out and do justice to the genre and in that, there are no qualms that Evoken are champions. Time and again they’ve proven that funeral doom can be just as eclectic and varied as any other metal niche; the gorgeously crafted Atra Mors is an clearly an attest to that.

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