Jesus fucking Christ. From the moment the teaser came up on the YouTube showcasing some of the most foreboding death/doom I’ve heard in recent memory, I knew this album would be good; no question about that. Dealing with the subject of insanity and sickness, there really is no better genre of metal to match it — the crushing weight of sound along with the jarring shifts in tempo make it the perfect medium for some seriously skin-crawling material. The potential for this album was huge, especially knowing the track record this band has for great releases; Slow Transcending Agony being one of my go-to death/doom records.
But it posed risks, the biggest being the length — keeping one’s attention for a double album a feat with any genre of music, not to mention one as intense as this [Moss peeping alert! — Steel Druhm]. But what if I were to tell you that this album not only avoided any pitfalls, but also took the expectations and potential, blew them to pieces and came away with the best doom metal album of the year? Because that’s what Ataraxie have done and the result is absolutely glorious.
I’ve always found a lot of albums like this rather disjointed, the dramatic shifts in tempo often sounding awkward; but L’Être et la Nausée is death metal and funeral doom fused to the point of absolute perfection and used in the best possible way. This album does sound like funeral doom, but with a few faster bits to liven the experience up and it’s so well thought out that it transcends the sum of its parts and genre. Despite being quite atmospheric, often reminding the listener of the tones found in the last Inverloch EP, and no doubt taking influence from their previous band Disembowelment, Ataraxie are far darker, heavier and more abrasive.
Right from the beginning, the ominous clean guitars lay the foundation for the crushing funeral doom that comes to emotionally pulverize you and tips you off you’re in for something unforgettable. The riffs are huge, the production is nigh-on perfect and unforgivingly dark; and every subsequent aspect you encounter over the course of the journey impresses as well. The ridiculously heavy death metal sections, the outstanding and frightening vocal work; it all comes together in one of the best packages this genre has ever had the displeasure of beholding.
It helps too that this album doesn’t simply stop at being depressing; it goes the full mile and is an absolutely terrifying display of mental sickness and despondency. This is reflected in the mood and the way the tracks progress and flow too. Though every song has its own merits, “Procession of the Insane Ones” is absolutely jaw-dropping. From the slowest of funeral doom’s crushing riffs to the mind-melting final section containing frantic death metal instrumentation and some of the most terrifying vocals I’ve heard in recent memory, you will not hear a better doom metal track this year.
The rest of the songs are equally solid, continue the theme incredibly well and every single movement from the mega-slow and challenging title track to the furious “Dread the Villains” (an apt title if ever there was one), perfectly transform the feeling of paranoia into sound. But the reason this all stands out is because it all sounds so human and it’s almost entirely due to the outstanding vocals. From the low death growls to the most expressive rasps and screams you will hear in doom, they bring true desperation and despair to the mix.
Instrumentally this album destroys any competitors, too. The drums are nearly perfect and the guitar riffs and tone are equally impressive, especially the way they so effortlessly weave the stark changes in tempo and mood together into a cohesive whole. The result is an album that is nearly flawless aside from the last track which overstays its welcome by a small margin.
This album almost perfectly conveys its grim subject matter with excellent artwork, amazing vocals and startlingly well thought out songwriting and you cannot leave it unaffected. This is far and away Ataraxie‘s strongest output and one of the finest death/doom albums in recent memory. An outstanding and insane work and definitely one I expect to hit many end-of-year lists when the year is out. Spectacular.