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Atrox - Terrestrials

Atrox - CD Review


CD Info

Season Of Mist
10 Tracks
English Lyrics

The promo for Terrestrials describes itself as being, "even more exceptional than Contentum and therefore certainly very interesting and definitely not to forget challenging", which is one of the most diabolical pieces of self-promotion I’ve heard, not to mention the artwork, which looks like something out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting. Atrox are a band that don’t so much challenge convention, they just seem to have no idea of what it is, and this is never more apparent than after pressing the play button.

Still, what is convention’s loss is our gain, but that doesn’t mean that everyone will love this album. Far from it, Terrestrials is not for the meek. Atrox play the strangest and most outlandish form of metal I’ve heard. There is no rhyme or reason to the hotchpotch of ingredients that make up a song or the spaghetti junction of bass and drum lines that slither over and under one another like eels in a tank. All this would have turned into some kind of gooey musical mess if attempted by a band less musically deft, but this is a group of seriously talented [if a bit crazy] musicians. The complexity of the sound is countered by the lucidity of the production, which is crisp and clear, the clicking of a hi-hat and the pulling of a bass-string being both emphasised with refreshing clarity.

In spite of my enthusiasm and the fact that I find this kind of stuff absorbing and intriguing, most people think that Atrox are just completely mad. Monika’s voice has its clean moments but a lot of the time it’s stretched between warbling and rasping, which, though it sounds unpleasant, actually works for me. She doesn’t let up on her lyrics either, which sound like lines concocted in the throes of madness by some public liability: "You stretch ghosts over the mattress, let the insane bed tuck up your dunes, hide your dreams under the pillow" and "swallow yourself - later it won't help to put your finger down your throat, there won't be a finger, there won't be a throat" she riddles in Lay, while sharing how she wants to swallow glasses of gastric juice in Mare’s Nest.

Nevertheless, there are some fine moments here that the more discriminating metal fan could appreciate. Lay, Human Inventions and Translunaria are excellent numbers and Changeling is just beautiful. However, this is only taken in context with the less accessible numbers that Atrox play, there is still nothing here for those purely into Nightwish or Theatre Of Tradegy. Most reviewers who pick this up probably won’t understand why it doesn’t have a health warning on it linking it with disorders of the bowels or the like, which is why you have to take Terrestrials with a decent-sized share of salt.

Atrox are most likely to appeal to ‘serious’ musicians or the kind of pernickety crew that like gutting an album or seeing complex compositions as seemingly impenetrable forests that they can pick their way through. There is a lot here for the determined connoisseur, or the determined lunatic. Personally, I like to think of myself as being in the former category, but after a few spins of this, not all of you will necessarily share that opinion.