I just love album titles that act as declarations of intent, telling you all you need to know about what you’re about to hear. That’s certainly the case here; Montreal’s one-man project Allelic makes the kind of Canadian black metal that’s given us excellent bands like Thrawsunblat, steeped in the wild and foreboding nature of that northern state. The Smoke of Atavistic Fires is a perfect title for that; it conjures to mind ritual, primal forces, and mystical knowledge, all of which feature heavily on this album, whether in the form of blistering black metal, crying out its pain and defiance, or with fully fleshed out and charming folk passages. We’re super proud to premiere this intricate and ambitious album in full! Head on below for the whole damn thing and I’ll meet you after.
I’d like to delay on the idea that this is an ambitious album; it what first drew me to it. It’s ambitious first in the sense of its themes (the project’s Bandcamp page will supply you with more information on the concept of the album, as well as the cover art chosen for it) but also, and especially, in composition. The folk passages, which are plenty, are fully realized, written and performed; they’re not just another transition but an equal, living part of the album. In fact, the entire last track of the album, “Elusive Prayers For An Absent God “, is such an acoustic endeavor, beautifully laying out the musical themes and ideas of the album at its close.
The heavier parts are just as satisfying; the production is fuzzy and abrasive as it should be, lending the guitars a chainsaw like edge, especially complementary in light of the classically influenced (that is, classic black metal) vocals and their role within the production and composition. The result is an album which shoots for the stars, trying to both create a folk-y ambience and appeal to fans of heavier black metal passages. And by god, it pulls it off. While it has moments where it feels like the album’s reach exceeds its grasp, it’s thrilling to Allelic try. That thrill is more than enough to ferry you over and give the album the grace it needs to pull you in. And when it does, it’s a joyous ride through harsh, black metal vistas and lush, warm folk soundscapes.
The Smoke of Atavistic Fires releases on October 12th via The Green Man Label (which is also underground and has plenty of other releases you should check out). Make sure to head on over to the band’s Bandcamp or the label’s to pre-order it; support underground music!