When people try to classify ‘doom metal’, it used to be easy. Things like early Anathema and Disembowelment pioneered the doom movement, which was slow, loud, and grim. However, as time went on, the genre seemed to gain more diverse influences. Katatonia added melody and cleans to the genre, and bands like In Mourning and Be’Lakor added elements of post-metal and melodic death metal to give it a new, modern feel. With so many facets of the genre, it’s not hard to figure that Atten Ash belong within it. However, finding where exactly they belong within a genre with so many great bands is the real test that their music brings upon us.The album is chock full of some really cool riffs and doom’s signature super-low growls, but the band also manage to add a large amount of melody to the music. There are some cleans at times, which are pretty decent, and really fit the music. They’re reminiscent of Jonas from Katatonia when he was just beginning to hone his craft: slightly rough around the edges, but with tons of passion. You really feel that the vocalist believes what he is singing. The passion can really be felt with his cleans, though the real highlight are his lows, which are brutal as it could be.
The best part about this record is probably the production. It’s crisp and perfectly fitting for the sound the band were going for. They really hit it out of the park in that respect. There are times when the song calls for a louder guitar mix, maybe a tad more drums, and the production team adjusted that accordingly in order to give the record an overall fuller sound than if it were just the same mix throughout the duration of the record.
The further we delve into the album, however, the further we find a common issue that seems to plague it from beginning to end: it’s extremely difficult to distinguish it from anything else. This is not to say it’s a bad album by any means, because it most definitely is not. However, there are moments where you forget which band you’re listening to and have to double check to make sure you didn’t accidentally switch over to something else. For example, the song ‘Born’ sounds like something straight out of the “modern doom” handbook where the band know exactly what they need. The same goes for the song ‘See You…Never‘, where the songs starts out pretty powerful but eventually just ends with little to no impact when compared to the first minute or so of the song. The problem likely lies in the fact that the genre is becoming more and more inundated with bands sounding highly similar with little to no variety. While Atten Ash has tons of potential, it will take at least one more album to really come into their own and set themselves apart from the rest of the bands in the genre as their own entity, because right now they sound more like an amalgamation of everything else than their own unit.
At the end of the day, the band is still incredibly new to the scene. The have tons of opportunities to mature, to grow, and to hone their sound to make it unique and discernible from the rest of the pack. As for right now, however, we have a band that put out a good album, but not a very memorable one. Hopefully the band can take these critiques and move forward, positive that only good things will come in the future, because we are all optimistic that the only way to go now is upward and onward.
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Atten Ash – The Hourglass gets…