The British doom artisans Atavist have created a massive emotional sonic landscape on their new release called III:Absolution.
Oscar Wilde wrote, “When we blame ourselves, we feel that no one else has a right to blame us. It is the confession, not the priest, that gives us absolution.” This quote fits well with the implied narrative of Atavist’s third album called III:Absolution. This album traces the mourning of loss and the act of confessing our pain. Of confessing the betrayal we feel when we lose someone. Of coming to grips with a life without someone close to us and moving on.
After thirteen years, Atavist have lived up to their name by returning with III:Absolution. The band includes Chris Naughton (guitars), Shane Ryan (bass), Callum Cox (drums), and Toby Bradshaw (vocals). Special guests include Jo Quail on cello (Mono/My Dying Bride), Bianca Blezard on viola/violin (Winterfylleth), and Mark Deeks on keyboards (Winterfylleth/ARD).
Opening with a guitar echoing through what feels like a vast distance, Atavist begin the journey to absolution with a tale called “Loss.” The synth notes gradually rising calls to drums draped in melancholy. This music dramatically captures the feeling of loss. In a roar of agonized vocals and crushing guitars, the wave of grief is consuming.
Gone are the sluggy mechanics of early Atavist work. The band has refocused their power with dramatic effect. The guitar and bass still feel massive, yet more forceful without the gritty overdrive. The drums continue to be pummeling and the reverb applied gives them breadth. The mammoth sound that Atavist has achieved on III:Absolution is impressive.
Following “Loss” is the song “Struggle”. The pacing elicits the feeling of fighting to drag yourself up from under an arduous weight. That weight is a loss that swallows all light from your soul. The pitiful darkness of grief. The throbbing bassline and anguish cries give the song a dreadful resonance.
“Struggle” leads us into “Self-Realisation.” There is a yearning, almost anxious, quality to the guitars as a funeral bell tolls. The chords invoke the essence of fulfillment. The concussive effect of the riffs in this song adds to the feeling of dark discovery. You can imagine a weary traveler finally finding a light that uncovers the brutal truth that time heals nothing.
With “Self-Realisation” we make our way into “Absolution.” The synth pedal tones create a sense of an open field at dawn. Gold and silver light slowly pushing away the night as a guitar arpeggio signals awakening. With the addition of the drums and overdriven guitars, the loss and the struggle are wiped away in the breaking day. “Absolution” culminates with the somber graceful beauty of cello and violin.
III:Absolution by Atavist is a majestic and deeply emotional doom record. The mourning of a tragic loss and the path toward a resolution of this grief is beautifully portrayed on this album. On III:Absolution, Atavist craft seismic songs that radiate with eloquence and austere grandeur. This is an album to savor and enjoy.