Atramentus, Stygian review (20 Buck Spin 2020)

The debut album from Funeral Doom virtuosos Atramentus is called Stygian and it is a dark, nonpareil wonder.

Atramentus is from Longueuil, Québec, which is immediately east of Montréal across the river. If you are unfamiliar with the music scene in the beautiful Canadian city of Montréal you should acquaint yourself with the amazing variety of metal and the consistent quality of the bands.

It is worth listing the credits for the musicians in the band so you can get a sense of what sounds you will be hearing when you listen: Phil Tougas: throat, chants, screams, guitars; Claude Leduc: guitars; François Bilodeau: synths, piano, dark ambient elements; Antoine Daigneault: bass; and Xavier Berthiaume: drums. The basics you need for Doom are in there with the guitars and bass and drums, plus there are those others which surely contribute to the atmosphere such as well, “chants” and “dark ambient elements.”

The music is Funeral Doom, so you know it is ponderous and ominous. The album has three songs, two long pieces and a bridge (or chasm) piece sandwiched between. Here again let me list some information that clues you in to what the music is all about, the song titles: 1. Stygian I: From Tumultuous Heavens… (Descended Forth The Ceaseless Darkness), 2. Stygian II: In Ageless Slumber (As I Dream In The Doleful Embrace Of The Howling Black Winds), and 3. Stygian III: Perennial Voyage (Across The Perpetual Planes Of Crying Frost & Steel-Eroding Blizzards). The titles are like a libretto.

Each composition has its own separate theme and feel, while of course they are all dark and foreboding. Set on an alternate Earth, part of the story is, “Granted immortality through the gift of the God’s sword, the nameless knight eventually witnesses the death of the sun and the end of all life on Earth. Surviving the great deluge, he is left to wander amongst the ruins of a now frozen earth under a sunless sky for eternity, alone and unable to die even by the scorching-cold blizzard winds around him, enduring perpetual physical torture while haunted by the memories of his past life and everyone he once knew buried under miles of ice.” You can see this story in the song titles, and you can hear the progression of it in the music. Each entry carries the sentiment of the events that are occurring, the calamity of it all, and the crushing sense of loss and loneliness. And abandonment. Listening to this music requires openness and patience to appreciate fully, and it is well worth it. Recommended.

Available Friday, August 21 from 20 Buck Spin, there is the download plus many physical formats (although some of the vinyl variants are already sold out).


{An aside … if you are going to Heavy Montréal, here is a pro tip: stay in Longueuil because the hotels are cheaper than Montréal and it is only one Metro stop to Parc Jean-Drapeau from Station Longueuil – Universitié-de-Sherbrooke.}

Atramentus, Stygian review (20 Buck Spin 2020)