Evoken - _Atra Mors_
(Profound Lore Records, 2012)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (
Just when I was just catching my breath from Ahab's release, I have to shoulder the weight of Evoken. This New Jersey funeral death act has made impressive rounds in the '00s including an outstanding split with Beneath the Frozen Soil in 2010. I absolutely adore when splits eclipse the one hour mark in track length. Evoken has always been hinged on moody atmosphere. The cover for _Atra Mors_ with its cloaked figures loitering upon a gloomy landscape unable to form any direction due to an immense weight of grief is perhaps a perfect representation of what will follow. To say that Evoken shares more common traits with death metal than other funeral doom bands may sound silly to most. In fact, it sort of sounds silly to me. Comparatively to Esoteric, Ahab and Mournful Congregation, Evoken's spirit is more hostile and rooted in aggressive despair. This contrasts with funeral doom's passive nature. The band accomplishes this with unique presentation of sound and instrumentation. The bass sounds dirty as hell and the keyboards stalk the landscape like specters. Evoken is less a funeral doom band than a death metal band who has been caught in some time vortex.One of the most unnerving qualities with funeral styles of metal is its tendency to fall into repetition. Bands hurdle this obstacle by employing interesting structures within marathon songs. Evoken's use of heavy keyboards and switching tempos breaks up their ten or twelve minute tracks, yet the band's tendency to wander within feels like en eternity to resolve. _Atra Mors_ achieves its target goal of utter despair and abandonment through long tracks which sometimes work with marvel and others with shrugging indifference.I cannot be too critical when it comes to this type of music. Evoken has always been a charm to embrace. Their daring dedication to experimentation within the confines of a decaying cathedral is a treat to experience. At times, I am smiling with excitement and at other, frowning with slight boredom. It is just strange when these two things happen during the same song. _Atra Mors_ is well worth a listen and will perhaps cause a different response under different circumstances. I still feel void of hope and content to toil in this ruin.
(article published 8/13/2012)
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