Fascination with the sea has always been part of the human existence. We are drawn to its depths, its unfathomably huge inky blackness; we bask in its uncaring power. Water defines the existence of life on our planet, both with its life-giving nature and its surging, irascible, uncontrollable energy. Hell, we’re each 60% water. To say that it’s the crux of all of our lives is an understatement of astronomical proportions: water rules our happenings on a day-by-day basis and is the reason that life even crawled forth from the primordial soup in the first place.
This impossibly-important fluid is the linchpin of the new album from Atlantis Chronicles, a French band that combines various strains of second-wave progressive deathcore into a creation that can tangle with the classics from any of a number of bands that have been the old(ish) guard of this scene for some time now. With their sight set seaward, this group leads listeners into the abyss, taking them on an astounding 40-minute journey by way of their sonic bathysphere.
The second word of the title is the most important, as this album is constantly surging forward from moment to moment. At times, the pacing is fast and urgent, at others, slow and methodical; the focus, however, always remains in the distance, as though the band is speeding towards some unknown, wavering, far-off point. Although they invoke a handful of progressive/technical deathcore names in their style, their two biggest influences are definitely Within The Ruins and Slice The Cake. Synthesizing their styles into a mixture that is as groovy and bouncy as it is technically demanding, Atlantis Chronicles occasionally mixes it up with some tapped melodies that feel more reminiscent of Canadian techdeath monsters Gorod than anything else, adding a sense of thoughtful songwriting flavor that remains absent from most deathcore albums. Segments sometimes feel closer to the djent-infused riffs of Ovid’s Withering – particularly the spoken word parts, the voice in which is extremely similar to “Earthshaker 2” from Scryers of the Ibis – or utilize a particularly reverb-intensive guitar tone to create a spaciness similar to The Contortionist’s classic LP, Exoplanet. This is, at its core, the quintessential modern progressive deathcore album; it throws every element garnered from the bigger names in the subgenre and throws them into a blender, taking the resulting concoction and slathering it into ten roughly equal song-sized molds.
Of course, with the upsides of this synthesis also come the drawbacks, mainly, the omnipresent sense of deja vu that pervades every second of Barton’s Odyssey. As the album goes on, it becomes increasingly difficult to not pause and try to think of where you know, you just know, that you heard that riff before. It’s not album-ruining by any stretch of the imagination, but parts of this record are so familiar to the bands that Atlantis Chronicles take influence from that it’s hard to stop oneself from wondering at times where inspiration ends and piracy begins.
Atlantis Chronicles’ second LP reads at times like a play-by-play of the prog deathcore happenings of the last half-decade, but far from being stale, it injects new life into these tropes and makes for a breath of fresh air in the low-and-slow miasma that most of deathcore sticks to nowadays. Occasionally hindered by how safely these gentlemen stick to their pool of influences, Barton’s Odyssey is nevertheless an energetic, fluid, and refreshing record that reminds fans of progressive deathcore why they love this genre in the first place.