Prior to this month, these Spaniards weren’t even the slightest blip on my radar. That changed when Dark Descent furnished the Angry Metal Promo Pool with Where All Hope Fades – Ataraxy‘s latest album. Where All Hope Fades is the bands second full-length, following on from 2012’s Revelations of the Ethereal. With a promising title, and seeing Where All Hope Fades referred to as “gruesomely textured” harboring “a sense of deep-set misery, almost pushing the record into death-doom territory,” I felt compelled to check it out. What I sampled, proved an interesting nod to 90s era Finnish death metal with notable similarities to bands like Abhorrence and Amorphis. In fact, what little I heard had me so tempted, I went as far as prying the review from Kronos‘ hands. In theory and on paper, it seemed like Ataraxy had all the necessary elements to pull together an album set to decimate and devastate. So, how does Where All Hope Fades hold up over the long haul, you might ask?
The long and the short of it is, that it just doesn’t. Though Ataraxy have all the right strands dangling within their reach – melodies that feel as they’ve been lifted straight from Abhorrence‘s Completely Vulgar compilation and the slow-moving death-doom of Amorphis circa The Karelian Isthmus, Ataraxy don’t have the song-writing capabilities to knit this into something emotional, thought provoking or memorable.
From the onset of Where All Hope Fades, it’s very obvious that the band’s second release is a continuation of what Ataraxy delivered on Revelations of the Ethereal. And if you enjoyed that album, you’ll not be disappointed in the consistency of what they bring to the table now. If however, you’re looking for Ataraxy to elevate their songs, heaving them a step beyond what they offered up before, you’ll be left wanting.
“The Absurdity of a Whole Cosmos,” is a melodic instrumental not far removed from Revelations of the Ethereal‘s “Immersion in Chaos.” Though it’s a good and consistent introduction to the band’s newest endeavor, my gripe with “The Absurdity of a Whole Cosmos” is that it runs on for close on 4 minutes where it could comfortably end at the 1-minute mark. “Matter Lost in Time” and “The Blackness of Ethereal Night” suffer a similar, and even more destructive lack of editing. Playing through from “The Absurdity” on into “Matter Lost” seems to highlight another glaring issue with the album: The similarity of one song to another. At times it becomes difficult to tell where the prior track ends and new one begins, fertilizing the overwhelming sense of perpetuality that plagues the album.
Vocals and guitars are handled by Javi, his only experience being with Ataraxy. In terms of Javi’s unclean vocal delivery, it’s modeled most closely on that of Adam Darski (Behemoth) with less rasp on the back end. I’m not sure if he’s responsible for the spoken word also, but being that nobody else is credited with contributions, I’m going to assume this is a yes. Javi’s clean vocal contributions bring to mind some elements of The Old Dead Tree‘s “The Bathroom Monologue.” They play off each other well and provide great contrast, and were they backed by interesting and memorable songwriting they’d tear you apart.
Of the six tracks presented, it’s really only “As Uembras d’o Hibierno’s” well-implied desperation that tempts me back to Where all Hope Fades. Opening with the bleakness of a suicidal depressive outing, the track moves along for large portions, at a glacial pace. It’s melodic and haunting and I’m not sure if the added emotion seeps in because of the language switch-up, but between that and the shimmering sharpness of the guitar-work, the song proves slightly more sticky than its compatriots. I’ve often been told, if you can’t say something nice about something, don’t say anything at all. That puts me in quite a difficult spot. I had to give you 600 plus words on why you should or shouldn’t buy this album and really – this album just is… it’s neither overly good nor bad. If you’re already a fan check this out. For everybody else, I sense that you’ll spend your green elsewhere.