It’s been a while since I’ve heard a melodic doom/melodeath album that did anything special for me. When done right, the music in this subgenre can provide some of the more enjoyable examples of modern metal. Early Opeth, October Tide, Be’Lakor and Daylight Dies are some prime examples of this and, fortunately, the new release from North Carolina’s Atten Ash, The Hourglass, can be added to this list.
It’s hardly a surprise, though, especially considering that Bare Gambling of Daylight Dies is a member of Atten Ash. Any fan of the former will be able to hear the parallel influences. To put it plainly, The Hourglass is a gorgeous blend of solid metal fundamentals, attention-grabbing melodies, and a wide dynamic range featured in all elements of the music. It plays through seamlessly like a single, continuous composition. And although there is a lot of similarity in the concepts presented, there is no lack of variety in the tones, textures, tempo and color.
The overarching sound is, of course, mournful with a dash of ominous. The shift between moods is subtle but smooth, and it is most fully captured in the transition of vocal styles between full, deep growls and delicately layered, almost-ghostly, clean singing. There is also a good deal of variation in intensity to be found in the music despite the fact that the tempos generally sit back quite a bit, as is the norm with this genre. The drumming is a driving force here and keeps everything sounding huge when it’s called for.
With a big, warm mix, Atten Ash take their time crushing you with the music on The Hourglass, much like ocean waves beating against a rocky shore. It would be a mistake to equate these guys with some of the coma-inducing doom off-shoot bands out there because Atten Ash is melodeath done right. The Hourglass will not only hold your attention from beginning to end, but I would say it’s definitely one of the best metal albums I’ve heard so far this year as well.
The Hourglass is out now on Hypnotic Dirge Records. Buy it here!
SkullsNBones Rating (Out Of 5):