Funeral Doom Friday: Revisiting EVOKEN's Tremendous Atra Mors
It’s the weekend! What better way to get it started than with the latest installment of “Funeral Doom Fridays”. This weekly column looks to shed some light onto some of the darkest, most depressing, and discordant metal out there. Funeral Doom stems from the deepest depths of death-doom and dirge music. Each week, my goal is to highlight some of the newest music or rediscover classic works from some of the earliest bands and originators such as Australia’s Mournful Congregation, United States’s Evoken, UK’s Esoteric and the Finnish Thergothon. Feel free to share your opinions and suggestions in the comments!
This week's feature is a step back in time as we revisit Evoken's most recent album, Atra Mors. The New Jersey quintet's last album came out at the end of July 2012 through Profound Lore Records (this was the label's 100th release). Evoken is seen as a foundational piece in one of metal's most depressive sub-genres due to their role in establishing a Funeral Doom presence in the United States. They themselves sought inspiration from the earlier works from groups like Thergothon and diSEMBOWLMENT. The group also went through some changes in their early years back in the 90's, operating under the names of Funereus and Asmodeus before settling on the name Evoken.
Atra Mors ("black death" when translated from Latin to English) is a monstrous 67 minutes of elegy. The arrangements throughout this album are incredibly eloquent, its heaviest moments seem to blend effortlessly with its softer, more orchestral occasions. The album is broken up into eight songs, two of which are instrumental, to prevent the album from feeling overbearing. The instrumental tracks, "A Tenebrous Vision" and "Requires Aeterna", are perfectly placed in the album to provide small breaks from the crushing, dispiriting steamroller the rest of the album delivers.
The inclusion of these orchestral elements are not limited to the instrumental tracks however. They are dispersed through the album against the growls and barks of John Paradiso and dynamic drumming and bass of Vince Verkay and David Wagner. This dichotomy of styling comes compliments of keyboardist, Don Zaros and the guitars of Paradiso and Chris Molinari. Atra Mors covers a great range of intensity over the course of 67 minutes. Paradiso's death metal growls become an epitaph of clean vocals on songs like "Descent Into Chaotic Dream" and "Pale Eloquence". On the same "Pale Eloquence" track; the long, droning notes of the guitars turn into thrash-like riffs on the back half off the song.
The range in intensity demonstrates the range in abilities of the members of Evoken. There is a patience and precision that comes with making monumental Funeral Doom, and it is something that Evoken has possessed since their inception. The talent possessed by the group's members is also a reason for their knack in continuing to make new and exciting music in an often under-appreciated genre of music. Hopefully in covering Atra Mors this week it sparks some ideas of new material in the near future. Gentlemen, if you're reading this…