ATAVIST – III Absolution

ATAVIST – III Absolution

Just a couple of months ago I reviewed Winterfylleth’s excellent "The Reckoning Dawn" (5/6) and already we have new music from the frontman Christopher John Naughton who’s the sole guitarist for this Mancunian, English sludge/doom metal outfit who also includes Toby Bradshaw (vocals), Shane Ryan (bass) and Callum Cox (drums). From the debut demo "31:38" (2005) (yes, one track exactly 31:38 long) through the eponymous album (2006) and "II: Ruined" (2007), Atavist had depressed the literal hell out of maniacs until they suddenly disappeared for 7 years only to emerge in 2017 for the purpose of this new, 3rd album, which features celloist extraordinaire Jo Quail (of My Dying Bride’s "Ghost Of Orion" fame), renowned viola/violinist Bianca Blezard (as heard on Winterfylleth’s "The Reckoning Dawn") and Winterfylleth keyboardist Mark Deeks, all in service of deathening and desludging their delivery.

The results, on a 4 song album clocking at the length close to 60 minutes, are impressive, provided you can take in up to 17 minute tracks of utter unadulterated misery the likes of which are hard to find nowadays. When I say this stuff is depressing, I don’t mean it has depressing overtones. I mean it sent me on a deep depressive bout for as long as I was exposed to it and then some. I think I am still reeling from it as we speak. This is probably the highest accolade a doom band can get but I assure you it’s well deserved.

Take the opener, the whopping 16:30 minute "Loss", deceptively minimalistic but haunting in its Swallow The Sun-ny/Agalloch-ian melodiscism or the snail pace funeral of just a little shorter "Struggle", which still only partially prepares you for the nerve-wrecking closing title track somewhere between onset of "Embers Fire" Paradise Lost and "The Wreckage Of The Flesh" My Dying Bride, with a richly melodic ebbs and flows lead-ership courtesy of Naughton in between cascading lunacy a’la Paradise Lost’s "Jaded" smoking Daylight Dies’ cannabis. And then there’s the sound, fantastic, all-encompassing production courtesy of Chris Fielding (Primordial/Napalm Death/Winterfylleth), which is your clue to break out your good headphones for the full enjoyment.

One thing I have desired of spell-binding doom/death works and I seldom get it, and, sadly, "III: Absolution" is no exception in this regard – absolute perfection. Ironically, "Self-Realisation", the significantly shortest track, is a little disappointing at best, a little unimaginative at worst, although by no means a filler. I just expected better things after the opener, which, thankfully, I got from all the remaining tracks.

From the opening acoustic tones to the closing violins "III: Absolution" is a work of beautiful oppressive misery you can’t afford to miss if you even recognize some of those names above. Welcome, back, gentlemen.