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ATRA: "In Reverence of Decay" - 70%

skaven, January 13th, 2013

Since the day in 2009 when I discovered that the Drowning the Light guitarist Blackheart had spun off a project of his own, back then named Atra Sacramentum, I've been an active hunter for more material, and luckily he has provided tons of it lately, In Reverence of Decay being already the second album, and there's also a newer EP, Up-turning the Curse, out as well.

Nothing major has been changed from the deadly, cold and ghastly scheme he properly began to explore with last year's debut Death Coven. The deal is low fidelity underground black metal with a very genuine aura of oppression, discordance and latent melancholy. There's a strong focus on general atmosphere which becomes clear at the beginning when the introductory ”Of Mysteries Ancient” sets the creepy mood and then flows seamlessly into sinister chord pluckings of ”Possessed by the Night”. The follow-up ”Majestic Evil” is a tad faster than its predecessor, using blast beats which are quite a rare sight on In Reverence of Decay. It is mostly slow menace what comes to the album's general tempo settings, but the aforementioned track along with the tad more melodic ”The Souls of the Arcane Dance” (which could almost fit onto a Drowning the Light record) are a few exceptions to the rule.

It is evident that Blackheart has never tried to come up with something amazingly inventive with Atra, but what is certain is that he is a master of atmosphere, and while some may disagree, I think he's done better job at that here on In Reverence of Decay than on Death Coven. The ambient bookends flow so flawlessly together into the metal you don't always even notice the change. The overall sound on the album is top-notch, reeking of all that is possibly evil and wrong, and esoteric. The vocal performance deserves a mention too, as the mid-range, resounding rasps, fit perfectly into the album's soundscape. Definitely a recommended purchase, but I still believe that he's able to craft even a better whole, hence the 'moderate' score.

3.5 / 5
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