A doom metal band that spends weeks crafting and honing its first few songs ready for gigging and recording is one thing, but if they’re the real deal they’ll then spend another six months crafting and honing their bass tone before a single soul gets to hear a single note they’ve composed.
This 2 track EP, entitled “Volume I” is a taste of what they have in store for us and it’s not pretty.
Opening with the expansive paeon to misery ‘The Sound In The Halls’, this pounds along with grim intent and a stench of decay and desolation. Vocally it is far more bold than many bands of the genre, with a fine growl being employed – although tunefully so. Jan Gardner doesn’t do ‘clean’ vocals but nor does he trade in cookie monster gruff nonsense either. Definitely a little bit of Tom G. Whatever-his-surname-is-this-week being channelled with an occasional foray into screaming Gaahl territory. It is measured and powerful and never too theatrical but adds just the right touch of despair to the proceedings. The riffs themselves are dripping with St Vitus and Electric Wizard style mournful throb and buzz, without ever feeling derivative or borrowed. Magnificent stuff.
The second track, the bleak and thuggish ‘Jesus Wept’, ups the pace a wee bit and reminds me of Witchraft‘s legendary debut with its confident 70’s drug-fuelled swagger. That said, the lyrics are way less optimistic than the Swedes’ ditties and this ode to sorrow is so delightfully morose that it will make you want to cry bitter tears as you punch the walls.
An ambitious start (both songs clock in at over ten minutes each) for a new band, but Atragon pull it off with aplomb and I for one cannot wait to see them live. Let’s hope they have been crafting and honing their doomiest grimaces.