It’s a grey day, 109 degrees and rainy. Since I had the AC fixed for the 7th time this year, all the lights in the house flicker. I’m gaining weight and losing interest, not to mention hair and sex drive. It looks like I have new neighbors, and it sounds like they have a dozen small children unable to control the volume of their voices. I hate my job like Hitler hated Jews, and I’m on a vacation that’s going by at lightspeed. I did score a rare piece of ass last night, but in an overzealous attempt to impress, I threw out my lower back and will spend the remainder of said vacation hobbling in pain, needing EMS to get off the toilet. All this and the Braves can’t beat the god damn Giants! Yet as I dim the lights, open the night’s first beer, light the day’s 21st cigarette and press play on the stereo, the opening chords of “Atra Mors” —the title track from Evoken’s long-awaited follow-up to 2007’s Caress of the Void— drown all of life’s meaningless bullshit in a sea of oppressive sorrow. When it comes to Funeral Doom, Evoken have no equal on American soil. Think of all the Death/Doom bands that started around 1994. Now how many of those bands still sound the same 18 years later? Not to say these New Jersian misery merchants haven’t progressed as musicians and songwriters. They have by leaps and bounds. But the formula remains the same. Soul-crushing heaviness at the speed of an empty existence. The mournful melodies atop cheerless dirges found on the aforementioned title track, “Grim Eloquence,” and “An Extrinsic Divide” render me thankful for depression and grateful for prolonged isolation, as these dismal hymns of despair just wouldn’t sound as otherworldly without them. Needless to say, Atra Mors is their most melodically adventurous work since 2001’s Quietus. The spoken bits on “Descent into Chaotic Dream” bring to mind a time when both My Dying Bride and myself were still hungry. Now John Paradiso’s bleak growls and occasional screams consist of the only discourse I solicit. This album is a warm, fuzzy blanket in a frozen wasteland of eradicated dreams. A downcast masterpiece of woeful perfection from the legends. New Evoken, new Katatonia, now all I need is the apocalypse (preferably the day after my vacation ends).
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