Minimalistic drone/doom is a hit-or-miss kind of genre. When you are relying on only one or two riffs to carry an entire song, the results can be either bone-chilling or yawn-inducing. With their second full-length, Atavist, hailing from Manchester, England, has once again proven it can achieve the former.
Atavists brand of tortured, bowel-loosening doom is not for the faint of heart. The music, while supremely sludgy, has little in common with warm, fuzzy stoner rock. Instead, Atavist is savage and agonizing, with bass notes so low they seem to make the entire recording clip. This album sounds to me a bit like Khanate, but much more dense and with the pace picked up slightly. The songs are not titled but labeled with Roman numerals up to six, and topped off with a Grief cover that comprises the seventh track.
Things get off to a slow start (not just in tempo, but action too) with the barely audible but almost nauseating bass rumble of I and the fairly run-of-the-mill II. But things get interesting on III, which builds its bludgeoning riffs, then almost imperceptibly collapses in on itself, slowing to a snail pace. IV is a one-riff acoustic dirge that is actually one of my favorite tracks on the album because it seriously sounds like it was recorded in a cave. V is a wicked slab of doom that starts with some epic riffing and builds to a mid-paced groove that is about the heaviest thing to come out of the UK since Electric Wizard. VI utilizes gloomy clean guitars and a haunting choral arrangement that burst into a cathartic maelstrom of feedback and shrieks.
The riffs on this album sound so dense they are almost physically exhausting to listen to at high volume. Few bands could come up with such an ugly, painful doom album and do it with such a clear artistic vision. It is important to note a lot of Atavists wallop lies in the subsonic frequencies, making the band sound like a slightly more energetic, much more misanthropic Sunn 0))). This album will clear a room in no time flat, but will also appeal to fans of the many factions of the slow and sludgy arts.
8.4 / 10
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