ATRORUM - Structurae

Atrorum - Structurae

8 songs
65:10 minutes
***** *****


Bands from Luxembourg rarely get a lot of attention outside their small homeland, so it felt a little strange to see German duo Atrorum compared to Le Grand Guignol, who although being considered a band from Germany consist mostly of musicians from Luxembourg. But this review is about Atrorum who immediately show that their hometown Munich has more to offer than the decadence of the Octoberfest. Founded in the late Nineties, two self-released albums came out in 2004 and 2006. Engagements in other bands must have slowed the duo down, but now they are back, signed to French quality label Apathia Records, and show that progressive avant-garde black metal is more than just a fanciful enhancement of an otherwise darkly violent genre.

If you skipped ahead to the review’s grade, you will notice that Structurae must have given me a lot of pleasure. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it the perfect album, but I haven’t come across any more colourful sounding band in a long time, and this is especially surprising considering that Atrorum belong to the black metal genre. The songs are generally quite long, except for the concluding two minute instrumental Regnum Caelorum which frankly doesn’t add much to the record. The regular songs are something else though. Let’s start with the opener Menschsein, at five minutes the shortest song on the album. It starts with a complex rhythm pattern before fierce black metal vocals are accompanied by a progressive orchestral extreme metal part. Not even halfway into the song, a strange hybrid electro/piano part prepared the ground for the chorus which comes with incredibly melodic vocals that remind me of German progressive rock band Anyone’s Daughter. So much happening already on this rather concise track, so what will happen on the longer material? The following Große weiße Welt starts in something like an NDH mood, with added electronics though. This was disconcerting at first, as I usually don’t really like that genre so much, but as Atrorum are Atrorum, it doesn’t take them a long time to veer once again into a whole different direction. There are gothic / dark wave elements with warm vintage synth sounds, piano arpeggios and bombastic black metal parts full of pathos. And we’re not even halfway into the track.

Another remarkable thing is the fact that the lyrics come in six languages: German, English, Spanish, French, Latin and Russian. And I always thought that I was polyglot with my four languages! The nearly ten minute long Ψαλμός comes with Greek letters, but is probably the band’s Latin song with crazy harpsichord movements, complex progressive acrobatics and, above all, lots of chorale vocals that make you feel like sitting in an ancient medieval religious ceremony. I guess Atrorum never run out of surprises.

One could write a novel about Structurae, dissecting each and every song minute by minute, trying to discover all the different influences and elements that flowed into the songwriting, but I suggest you do that for yourself, as the pleasure will be infinitely higher. So Atrorum have been compared to Le Grand Guignol, and despite always being quite happy when a Luxembourgish band is really great, I have to admit that Atrorum are doing even better. They remind me maybe a little bit of this strange Austrian black metal band Angizia which used to play its own idiosyncratic type of black operetta metal, or possibly Atrorum are as eclectic as the defunct Mr Bungle used to be, albeit in a darker direction. But when all is said and done, Structurae is one hell of an album that will give you an incredibly amount of pleasure if your mind is open to musical discoveries. Music can be entertaining, and music can be challenging too, and in the case of Atrorum, it manages to be both at once, giving you a unique feeling that few other artists are able to do.

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