Arx Atrata - The Path Untravelled
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Release Date: 18th October 2019
Record Label: Independently Released
Ben Sizer (a.k.a B.S.)- Everything
Arx Atrata - An Undying Verse
Rating (out of 5🤘): 🤘🤘🤘🤘
Favourite Track(s): To Be Reborn, An Undying Verse, Elmet, The Wriath, Brethren And Betrayer
Beautifully melancholic and thought provoking atmospheric black metal once again coming from England's own Arx Atrata. Back for his third album, B.S. has crafted an impressive and epic album filled with multiple layers and textures that take you on a journey unlike anything you've been on before. As someone who I consider a flag bearer of British black metal scene alongside; Fen, Saor, Winterfylleth and Necronautical, amongst many others, has once again proved why Arx Atrata deserves to be in the highest echelons of the British black metal scene with The Path Untravelled. A follow up to 2016's Spiritus In Terra was going to be no easy task but in my opinion B.S. has exceeded himself and given us something special.
Musically, there is a blend of beautiful atmospherics and crushing black metal riffs that stir the soul and conjure up fantastical imagery of an epic nature. Wether it be frostbitten mountains in the north or foggy fens in the south, for me no matter where I am and what I'm surrounded with, this music feels like it'll give anywhere a story and sense of atmosphere, which is a rare occurrence with albums for me. There is definitely a sense of careful consideration when these songs were being composed (I'm not saying written as it would detract from their epicness), every melody and chord progression feels thought out and played with conviction to create a diverse and intriguing environment for the music to sit in. Bringing in some of the elements of 2016's Spiritus In Terra and building on them to develop an album that shows progression yet still retains the original Arx Atrata sensibility that B.S. achieved on his previous releases. There is also something amazingly proggy about this album, with transitions from epic black metal into more stripped back acoustic guitar and piano sections. Considering this is all one man, the arrangement of each track is astounding, everything blends and fades together with such precision it adds to the overall mystique of the songs because there isn't any obviously jarring transitions, so that is a testament to the composition. Overall, the album is very innovative and intriguing with its uses of atmospheric elements and traditional black metal riffing, for me this is most prominent on songs Brethren And Betrayer, An Undying Verse and The Wraith. All three of those songs really stand out to me for various reasons. Their melodies are strangely hypnotic and entrancing over the top of a thunderous cacophony of layers and textures alongside this epic sense of narration and story that each song hold. Throughout the album there are these captivating moments that will just draw you in and keep listening over and over again.
From the production standpoint, it sound absolutely gigantic. With multiple layers of reverbs, delays and various other effects of that nature, there is a whole sonic environment that has been built from the ground upwards that soars to amazing highs that are supported by strong and structured low end. The lead guitar tone is piercing to bring out the melody over the crunchy droning chords that the rhythm guitar tone provides. The drums are really spaced out in my opinion, which I'm not the biggest fan off but the kick and snare are pretty central to provide the solid foundation in which all the other components of the songs are built up on. The snippets of piano and choirs are placed so well in the mix so that they augment everything else instead of overcrowding the sonic space which I know from experience is quite hard to get right. While the vocals are mixed appropriately for the genre, for me I think there could have been a little less reverb and a bit more volume, but that is a personal preference. Overall the mix is incredible, there is always something new to digest with each listen through.
So, if you fancy some of the finest British black metal to intensify your evening with beautiful melancholic atmospheres and epic back metal riffs, check out The Path Untravelled now!
Arx Atrata - The Path Untravelled