It has been a lengthy wait between albums for fans of Spain’s Ataraxy. Nearly 6 years after their debut record, the doom-inspired death metal band returns with “Where All Hope Fades”. Both the bleak album artwork and title immediately reveal how this release will sound: lifeless and depraved. Calling the record lifeless is the double-edged sword that haunts doom/death metal. On the one hand, Ataraxy absolutely nails an atmosphere that few bands can create. It is a chilling feel caused by dissonant riffs (both distorted and otherwise). Notes are often left to ring just long enough to feel uneasy before they finally resolve. If this is what you’re looking for, Ataraxy delivers.
But the other side of this dagger is simply that “Where All Hope Fades” is somewhat boring. The riffs purposely lack energy, and it makes the record a draining experience. The album barely crosses the 45-minute mark but feels considerably longer. During the occasional speedier moments, there is nothing that hasn’t been heard thousands of times before on a death metal record, and Ataraxy doesn’t do it better than everyone else. For this reason, “Where All Hope Fades” will only be enjoyable if you seek doom metal.
Across the 6 tracks on this record, Ataraxy clings tightly to both clean guitars and dissonance. These elements are used almost constantly (including some tracks, like the opening “The Absurdity of a Whole Cosmos”, where it is essentially the only thing to happen in the song). Often times the entire backdrop of a song changes from silence to slow chugging rhythm guitars and vice versa, but the constant remains dissonance.
To the band’s credit, not every song on this album is eternally slow. “One Last Certainty” opens with some blasting and high speed riffs, but it does eventually return to a more predictable, plodding pace. In this instance, it isn’t inherently bad: a variety of tempos helps to make each of the two sounds more potent. The best bands tend to use contrast to avoid being one dimensional, and this particular song shows Ataraxy achieving this exceptionally.
As the album wears on, the band’s reliance on clean guitars increases. They aren’t used particularly differently from the normal distorted dissonance, but serve as another instance of variation. These certainly help make “Where All Hope Fades” more enjoyable, but ultimately, it still falls short. This particular release does fail my tastes, but is unlikely to do so for any fan of death/doom metal. For followers of that style, Ataraxy have crafted an album to perfection!
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“One Last Certainty”
3.3/5 or 66%.