Album Review: ATRIARCH Dead As Truth
It’s summer here in WA. Finally, I suppose. Gross and disgusting, almost getting comparable to a Midwestern humidity bomb. And I’m leaning back in a chair trying to cool off as Atriarch’s Dead as Truth slowly pushes out of my speakers. And the more I let it sink in, the more it makes me wish that it was winter, and the cold gloom of this album could really take effect.
Portland, OR’s Atriarch have been bringing a dark, slower strand of doom/rock since 2009. Those that have experienced the previous three albums know what to expect here: pain and misery. There’s moments where things get blackened and the atmosphere becomes real suffocating, but Atriarch would rather torture you slowly.
“Inferno” is like the band is starting to pull the night sky over you to set the mood right, and give you a taste of what this is all about. The track is immediately bleak and slow, dredging along as vocalist Lenny Smith shouts out, “Nothing inside!” The raw emotion builds as does the song, slowly rising, then falling once more, and then getting downright aggressive, bringing on a black metal vibe.
It’s the second track, “Dead”, where I feel like the album beings to take on its true form. Atriarch favor the doom side of things and prefer to crawl forward rather than lurch. And it’s here that I’m reminded of Celtic Frost’s masterstroke Monotheist. Dead as Truth sounds a lot like Monotheist the more it goes on. Smith’s vocals are very reminisce of a more mournful Tom G.Warrior. Of course, when Atriarch pick up the pace they lose that Monotheist-vibe, and for the better. It breaks up the song and keeps things interesting.
The strongest piece, and perhaps the most unhinged, is the thick, mournful “Void.” From beginning to end, this track is sounds like it’s about to finally lose its shit and jump out the highest window it can find. But it doesn’t. It barely maintains itself. It starts out on a low note, moaning bass note gradually picks up. Slow, drums and creeping guitars reign it in. The vocals keep calm…for a while. Like “Inferno” it slowly builds, but here it feels cathartic. By the time the song reaches its fifth-minute, it sounds like the band is read to dive head first into oblivion. But instead it slowly fades out.
Like I said, if you’re a fan of Atriarch’s previous catalog, you’ll find everything to love here. I can see how the band would also bring a lot of fans that wouldn’t normally be into doom into the fold. It’s not an extremely heavy album sound-wise. If you walk into this expecting Electric Wizard, you’re going to be sorely let down. It’s heavy Monotheist tones, and some extremely depressing, miserable lyrics, and some great blasting sections to break up the slow stuff. It’s something that deserves mediation. Which was something I initially did not give it. If you need a darkness fix, you’ve found the right album. And I suspect it will get better once a crisp, cold winter grips the lands.