Evoken have deep, dismal roots in American doom metal. Hailing from Lyndhurst, NJ, they've been churning out lush, deep and textured doom since 1994. Their fifth full-length, Atra Mors, comes after a long period of silence; it's their first offering in five years. Perhaps that time had an effect on the songwriting and narrative, because Atra Mors is defined by an intense and poisonous pressure, like a powerful pocket of magma that can only escape, molten and oozing, from a crack in the Earth's crust at the painful pace of liquid rock.
John Paradiso's vocals are as punishing as a blast furnace, capable of withering flesh and melting steel. The rattling, shambling weight of the record is alleviated here and there by sprays of spooky, almost impudent synths. The pace is considerably more urgent than the usual shuffling, limbless drag of deeply melancholic funeral doom. While they certainly conjure all of the desperate, clawing misery and resignation of a prisoner being led to execution, the guards are often leading their victim to the gibbet at a quick-march.
An album highlight is the bubbling, rancid boil of "Grim Eloquence," which displays all the subtlety of caustic sludge eating through skin, a wet and swampy violence. The music is troubling and absorbing, a fascinating progression of textures and tones, telling the lugubrious narrative through remarkably tactile sound. This is an example of Evoken's finest work.
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