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Atrium Carceri - Metropolis (2015) - Review

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Band: Atrium Carceri
Album title: Metropolis
Release date: 9 June 2015
Label: Cryo Chamber

01. The Gargantuan Tower
02. The Dark Mother
03. Across The Sea Of The Dead
04. Black Needle
05. Decrepit City
06. Sacred Slab
07. 200 Days
08. Industrial District
09. Heart Of The Metropolis
10. The Cowled Seers
11. The Machine

Atrium Carceri, the Swedish dark ambient project is back with its tenth album. Rejoice all lovers of dark cinematic soundscapes because the act which became a true living cult inside the genre prepared once again something that will thrill and suck you into the deepest corners of pure desolation, environmental decay and loneliness. But this time, Simon Heath, the man behind Atrium Carceri, serves with something that I wasn't really expecting, with Metropolis he managed to bring light, more light and soothing ambiances than on anything he ever released. Ok, don't let me misguide you now, Metropolis is still above all a very dark meditative journey, locked out from the illusion and takes place entirely in our former home within darkened sky and gargantuan citadels where the man once ruled as gods. Metropolis is in strong connection with the previous proper album The Untold which was released in 2013 and with which Simon took us to the origins, to the primordial metropolis and into the void where the creator abandoned us (note that earlier this year Atrium Carceri released a soundtrack album composed for the narrative philosophical game 'The Old City: Leviathan' which is in no connection with this story). The new epic output follows the expedition to uncover the truth about the factions in control, what happened to the long lost architect and how to open a portal back into the colorful illusion the ignorant call home. That's kind of a background concept behind the album, but still everybody could find within those gloomy and dreamy ambiances his/her own fantasy world because those tracks leave a vast amount of space for each ones imagination.

If we are going to follow the meaning of a concept behind Metropolis we are pushed to dwell in the sombre place across the sea of the dead where featureless faceless glitter under the blackened surface of water. The first two tracks takes us there with kind of a typical Atrium Carceri approach where beside those droneing obscure melodies, there come to the surface also some slight industrial inserts, echoing piano touches and dreadful narrative speach which makes kind of a suspense that is witnessed throughout the whole album. A myriad of different layers of sounds that lurk in the shadow of this quite minimalistic compositions form kind of a seductive hypnotic melody and if you'll close your eyes the whole new definition of darkness created with synthetic sounds will open up. Atrium Carceri in a strange way gives a new definition to the world "epic". This is not a new thing for this act and those who follow Simon's musical creation will know what I mean, but if you are the one who just discovered this act than once you'll hear the post apocalyptic psychedelia with subtle detonations and traumatic ambiance of "Across The Sea Of The Dead" and how beautifully it opens up into kind of a brightness that follows up in the almost gentle "Black Needle" and gets its culmination in the almost touchy sombre emotions of "Decrepit City", believe me that you'll be hooked in an instant. It's needless to say that there's such a depth in every single featured element and the linear, but yet very dynamic flow of the album is breathtaking, it shows such a great compositional skills of the author who managed to create an utstanding pathos. "200 Days" is so bleak and evil that it's impossible to get through without getting some goose bumps, especially when those dreadful spoken words and reverberate bass pulses create such an astounding atmosphere. Then the journey gets a psychedelic turnover with the industrial dark pulsating lines and dense background drone noise in "Industrial District", but this is just a necessity to cross to get into the heart of Metropolis. At the same time it embraces with silent melody and earsplitting noise, yet is enchanting with use of some chants. It's difficult to find within the dark ambient genre something that is at the same time partially minimalistic, rich in sound, dense, emotional, yet so cinematic that it could be a magnificient soundtrack for many of horror psychedelic games or movies, "The Cowled Seers" is the ultimate proof for that, in a way tribalistic, with spacey synths, vibrant pulses, captivating building up melody and field recorded sounds that penetrate the mind like a sharp blade. But the Devil has many faces, it's beauty and it's horror and it reveals in all its grandeour right in the end, in "The Machine" with evocation of almost kind of a floydian atmosphere mixed with abrasive darkness that we are used from before right from Atrium Carceri or British legend Lustmord and for example from the lush dark ambiances of Desiderii Marginis, that sucks you into the turmoil of the revelation of the ultimate truth where the sense of trauma is the trigger of everything.

Metropolis is one of those climaxes of everything taged dark ambient. This time Simon went quite out of the genre borders and created such a stunning work of art that will leave a deep mark within the scene. With such compositions where the attention for details is essential, where subtle layers offer an otherworldy experience, yet everything is well produced and comes with a very nice artwork and just calls for many repetitions. Metropolis is a prime example how to make dark ambient music flowing and melodic, strenuous and adventurous, strong, lush and emotional, almost solemn in its very essence.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 9/10