Written By: Hell³

Atavismo_DesintegracionTruth is, I envy the good people of Spain. Even if they didn’t host those big metal festivals and benefit from constant visits by artists who would never think of coming to my native México, their concert-goer logistical advantages are undeniably desirable. For example, they can jump on a train for a few hours for the chance to, say, attend one of the Altar of Plagues farewell tour dates (fuck, that hurt more than it should’ve), whereas, if I want to catch a train to the US, it would have to be “La Bestia.” Yes that’s Spanish for “The Beast,” also un-ironically known as, “The Death Train.” As metal as that sounds, I assure you it’s no fun, and your ticket includes many an actual life threatening experience. Still, few would say the Spanish musical scene is particularly vibrant or influential these days. Even without the geographical and language barriers, there seems to be an isolation that only their biggest artists seem able to overcome. So, I really didn’t have much to go when deciding to review the  Desintegración EP from newcomers Atavismo. Just language recognition, a vague memory of high school biology, and a “Space Rock” tag, yet I pressed on in the name of Mexican-Spanish relations.

The venn diagram of psychedelic rock fans and heavy metal fans have an intersection locus larger than many might think. Besides the obvious fact that Pink Floyd has a space in every moderately enthusiastic melomaniac collection, genre cross-pollination generated interest in bands like Earthless and Porcupine Tree from what are generally segregated fan bases. This intersection can be greatly reduced if we talk about jam bands. Heavy on the “You had to be there” mentality, the improvisational excesses attract a much more specific taste. Fortunately, even if Atavismo identifies themselves as belonging to this subset, their compositional chops are mature enough to avoid losing themselves in noodle-intensive wankery and revelry.

Atavismo_2015a

Generally speaking, this is a record that despite coming from a jam improv tradition, is very concise. With only four tracks over 37 minutes, the band offers skilled musical arrangements structurally simple but emotionally effective. Classic progressive builds are used carefully to  create interesting moods and coupled with a solid, if a bit squashed production. It has a good balance that allows just enough space for a vibrant bass and very active battery work, providing effective counterpoints to the melodious guitar harmonies. The first standout is “Kraken” which features a great crescendo on the second half of the song based on a simple riff that may remind some of The Eye of Every Storm era of Neurosis, with a heavy Pink Floyd influence as well. Hailing from a port city, they almost had to have a song like “Oceánica,” which is a wistful aquatic arrangement bathed in lush ambient electronica, with a climactic resolution using distortion to create one of the album’s heaviest moments. Closer “Meeh” (I don’t get it either, really) is probably the weakest and most monotonous, and overstays its welcome. Despite that, it has a decent Middle Eastern guitar arrangement that livens things up when present.

If Atavismo is an example of what Spain currently has to offer, it may well be on the verge of a musical renaissance, and despite it’s minor flaws, Desintegración is a solid debut full of atmosphere and personality. With soulful performances and solid musicianship, their Mediterranean take on 70’s psychedelia may even leave you comfortably numb.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Temple of Torturous (Vinyl release)
Websites: AtavismoOfficial | atavismo.bandcamp.com
Release Dates: Out Worldwide 06.16.2015

 

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  • Rob

    The embedded track has a later-era Grails feel to it. I Dig it.

  • kaeru92

    Just want to comment specifically on the review …
    I know that some sort of intro is appreciated to give the reader a sense of where the review is going, and it’s also a good place to add a touch of humor. But this one really was too long, and then you went on to talk about types of prog rock/metal, which furthered delayed the moment you started to really review the album…

    …but in the end there is only paragraph which contains real info about the album ! I felt that was not enough to understand your opinion of the album.

    I don’t mean to sound harsh, just trying to provide feedback so that your next review is better !

    • Thanks, you’re right about that. I’ll work on it for sure. Thanks for reading!

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      This criticism is pretty far of the mark,
      For starters the opening paragraph is pretty much consistent with probably 90% of reviews on this site. So regular readers here would hardly be bleeding from the eyes for the effort and seriously its’s like 4 sentences long dude…hardly a huge ask.

      The second paragraph establishes the broader context in which the band sits. Fans of psychedelia / metal / prog will get a feel for where this band is at. Which given that they would be totally unknown to most is really useful. This passage also gives the reader an insight into potential bias or genre knowledge of the writer.
      The final paragraph picking out some notable moments and generally providing enough information for those who are by this stage still interested to go and check it out.
      Given the score and comments it’s not really that surprising that Hell didn’t go into any greater detail of the 4 songs.

      I enjoyed the review was pretty interested in hearing about a Spanish band and learning there is a train route known as “The Death Train’ and was surprised by this comment.

      • Thanks for the comments Carlos. I don’t mind the criticism as it was constructive and in hindsight I may have overextended on the introduction. I think we haven’t got much Spanish bands around here so I got a bit over excited about stating my perception of their scene. I think it may give the impression that I didn’t talked enough about the music but I’ll work on correcting that in the future.

      • kaeru92

        I’m not not complaining about the length of the review, i enjoyed reading it as well. Just stating that the ratio of additional info/album info is pretty high. Just because I’m not comenting a lot doesn’t mean i haven’t been reading all the reviews of this site faithfully for over a year.

        But then, as stated, its still my opinion. And just like an album review, you may agree with it or not. I’m clarifying what i said because i feel like you missed my point.

        I think its only the second review of hell I’m reading, so I’m sure he’s welcoming any constructive feedback.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          Fair enough, but I don’t think I missed your point :)
          I wasn’t having a dig at you for not commenting BTW, my ‘regular readers’ remark was just responding to your comment that the intro was too long.

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    I can’t stop hearing “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” in that bassline. Seems a bit overlong, but then again I’ve never been a huge fan of the sound you nicely described. Good to see another review by you up here, Mr. Hell!

    • Yeah they wear their Floyd very proudly and prominently, and still largely manage to make it their own sound. Thanks for reading!

  • OzanCan

    The embedded song is enjoyable, but probably, it’ll get old after a few spins. Great review :)

    • It’s a good opener, but the meat really is on the mentioned tracks and the whole thing is available for streaming on their bandcamp. Thanks for commenting!

    • Kalsten

      The full album is also available in Spotify. They are not the kind of music I usually listen too, but it is quite enjoyable.

  • Kalsten

    Hola Hell3, no sabía que eras mexicano. Aquí un español (viviendo en Dinamarca) :)

    I was very surprised to see a Spanish band in AMG. I think that Spain has some good bands, but as Hell3 said, they seem to be isolated from the international scene, although many of them are also big bands in latin america. I suppose that this happens due to singing in Spanish, but the few bands that sing in English do not fare very good though.

    If someone is interested on trying some refreshing Spanish metal bands, I would recommend:

    Vita Imana (Uluh): they mix a kind of thrash with exotic instruments (mostly percussions) ala Roots of Sepultura. They sing in Spanish though.

    Angelus Apatrida (any album): this is one of the best “new-thrash” bands I listen too. True, it is thrash, so not a lot of inventive there, but they do very good albums. Check them out!

    Scent of Death(Of martyr’s agony and hate): death metal with very good songwriting and musicianship.

    • Hey! Qué gusto saber que del grupo que comenta regularmente hay alguien que habla el idioma! Y de la madre patria ni más ni menos!

      Angelus Apatrida is great! They got a bit overshadowed by the whole Re-thrash movement but I think they are able to hold themselves just fine now that it’s winding down.

      Didn’t knew about Vita Imana and Scent of Death but will sure check them out.

      Sadly I think the biggest Spanish metal name known around here is a band I just can’t stand (Mago de Oz) and I’m sure that many more deserving bands should get that attention.

      • Kalsten

        Yep, I totally understand you with Mago de Oz. They were ok in their beginnings, but them they fathomed into more comercial seas. It was great for them, that’s sure, but they lost their metal part to become a pop band with folk influences.

        I know of other heavy metal bands that broke from the Spanish borders and nowadays are quite important in latin america, like Saratoga or Warcry, but they are quite bland to me.

        I’m eager to read more reviews from you, man :)

        • Thanks, I really appreciate the support! ?

          • PanzerFistDominatrix

            Hola Hell3 y Kalsten! Soy danés y vivo en Copenhague (bienvenido Kalsten), pero mi gemelo vive en México D.F. con su esposa mexicana. Hell3, sabes porque no hay muchos conciertos de metal en DF? Hay un montón de metal fans en México, es cerca de las Estados Unidos, buenas conecsiones con Miami y Los Ángeles, etc… un misterio para mi.

            Okay, enough with the Spanish, I hope I didn’t sound too retarded. And you’re right about Spain too. Not only is there not that many well known Spanish bands, considering the size of the country, but their ain’t that many concerts in Spain either (I did catch Necroohagist in Madrid on the Epitaph tour though). I really think our tiny Scandinavian country way up north in Europe (okay, not Norwegian black metal north, but still…) is better served concert wise than Madrid.

            Kalsten, did you go to the Copenhell festival last week? :-)

          • Hey! Your Spanish is really good don’t worry. There are many problems for metal concerts here. The biggest problem is that the largest promoter is part of a sort of cultural monopoly by the biggest TV company in the country and that really is a hindrance since they also happen to control a lot of venues around the country and smaller promoters have to go through them to get access to them.

            Also all the promoters here seem to be really averse to risk. There are a lot of metal fans but there is also a lot of dilution between band fandoms. There are bands that are guaranteed to have almost a yearly presentation and that has also disenchanted more general fans of the genre such as myself. We would like to see new bands but unless they can almost get a sellout or something very close most promoters will not be really interested.

            And finally, most independent venues where they can have this concerts without the TV company intervention can’t really be seen as a true business, most of them have to present themselves as a cultural NGO of sorts. And *then* they have to face local government corruption.

            Still, besides the really complex situation there has been *some* improvement. Last year’s Hell & Heaven Fest, despite the groan inducing name and besides all the drama that almost got it cancelled had a somewhat decent lineup even if the headliners were mostly nu-metal (which to the dismay of many “trve” metal warriors is still immensely popular here). I just hope that they start bringing relatively younger bands that are almost woefully unknown around here.

          • PanzerFistDominatrix

            Wow, bummer… that’s some serious structural challenges to overcome just to throw a show, what a shame – but thanks for enlightening me. I’m surprised about the nu-metal popularity you mentioned, didn’t know that either. I thought black metal was still pretty big in Mexico, no?

            Makes me appreciate the metal scene in small Denmark – just saw Kreator at a festival here. Never was a big Kreator fan, but fuck me, they ripped everybody a second A-hole that night. Absolute killer concert with unmotivated confetti, fire, and smoke… metal like it’s spposed to be, vamonos!

          • Black metal it’s somewhat popular but most likely if you got Darkthrone playing the same day as, say, Papa fucking Roach, most likely the latter would be playing in a big arena heavily promoted through TV ads. While Darkthrone would barely fill a movie theatre converted to concert venue that just holds around 1500 people and publicized mainly by social media and word of mouth.

          • PanzerFistDominatrix

            Oh, okay. But there’s never gonna 1500 people for a metal show in Denmark, regardless of the sub genre, bar Metallica and other names in that weight class. Cannibal Corpse plays for fewer than 300 people here – they do come and play though :-)

          • And there also lays another bit of the problem, promoters expect that kind of turnout on every single event.

  • Jess

    “If Atavismo is an example of what Spain currently has to offer, it may well be on the verge of a musical renaissance… 3.0/5”

    wut

    • The shortness works against it when half of the record is a bit nondescript. But when the music works is very, very good. I felt that as a whole, the record was more than ok, but it fell short of being very good because of that. Hence the score.

      Edit: Also, compared to what I currently know of the scene, which is little (see some other comments above), they are very good.

  • Doomdeathrosh

    Spain has some great bands right now : Autumnal, Dantalion…and now this too! Great Review!