Atemporal – Thorn Genesis Review

Madness is a string. It connects the watcher’s throat to the stars – or rather, what lies behind the stars. Unwavering and impossibly still, the inky black silhouette against the night sky waits with teeth bared. It blows the brain like a lobotomy, which severs the tendrils, the strings, between reality and the straightjacket. Strings form cords at the eyes the closer we gaze, ropes to the unfathomable. Strings yank the eyes downward, and patient people simply raise their eyes to distract, to proselytize of fiction’s creation. We cannot fathom the depths nor the heights, and we ignore the strings. Atemporal groups them in one crooked palm and offers them like the head of the Baptist.

A project of Sebastian Montesi of Auroch, Egregore, and Mitochrondrion, Atemporal offers death/black insanity with Thorn Genesis. Featuring homage to the blasphemous Scandinavian greats, twisted Lovecraftian apathy, and blazing death heft in equal and lethal doses, expect dissonance and intensity at every blind turn. Thorn Genesis rides the fine line between ominous and whacked out, feeling completely improvised at one passage then completely aligned the next. Far from perfect in production inconsistencies and grating performances, Atemporal’s ambition is nonetheless second to none.

Compared to the calculated menace of Mitochondrion or Ulcerate, Atemporal leaves everything in the open with Thorn Genesis with reckless abandon – pure madness – more closely resembling the blasphemous gut-punch of Sermon of Flames or the improvised explosions of sister act Egregore. Raw and unfiltered injections of melody and scathing tremolo blaze like a wildfire atop an equally unstable foundation of start-stop riffage. It takes several visits to understand the assault that Atemporal blasts, the line between Egregore-esque insane randomness and Aseitas-level intentionality blurred throughout. An aptly thorny listen, the best tracks, such as “The Great Warding,” “Draped in Abyssal Fire,” and “Meditations on Azoth” adapt to their surroundings, focusing on memorable riffs with stinging dissonance branded into them, a contemplative melody emerging from the fray, and a ritualistic plodding that emerges beneath raw riffs and relentless blastbeats, respectively. Closer “Backward Down a Thorny Path” is a feat to behold, comprising nearly half the album’s runtime, and easily the best track here. Balancing clarity and density with a tasteful melodic motif and a clear destination in mind, it feels simultaneously like a compilation of Atemporal’s best and a sudden delusion of a diseased mind.

Because Thorn Genesis makes Atemporal seem like a dissonant death metal band fed through the raw black shredder, it’s not for everyone. As challenging as the content is on Thorn Genesis, rewards can be reaped aplenty by style fans throughout – except when the climb becomes greater than the view from the summit. “Three Initiates Meet at the Cemetery Crossroads” is most guilty, as it relies on a repeated melody and riff interpreted through Portal’s ION-esque rawness, seared into the brain through painful levels of reiteration. “The Hag’s Lamentation” is another setback, as its fretboard-frying levels of squealing and finger-flying technicality approach Psyopus levels of annoyance. The mix, done by Montesi himself and mastered by Cosmic Putrefaction and Vertebra Atlantis mastermind Gabriele Gramaglia, is hit or miss, as Atemporal’s lines between shredding rawness and pummeling density have little bridge between. Ultimately, Atemporal is a chore to listen to because of its stylistic choices and the venom it injects into every movement.

If madness is a string, then Thorn Genesis climbs the rope of its threads, unclear of the direction or destination and unflinching in the revelation – regardless of how caustic that may be on the mind that beholds it. Stripping “song” to a bleeding, thorny core reminiscent of blackened blasphemers while molding its molten clay into the forbidden form of dissonance and density, Atemporal is uncannily hostile. Eroding and cracking its foundation of riff and circumstance with a devotion to harm, there is little considered listenable that is not fed through a grinder of the raw and bleeding as it crawls through the razor wire and thorns of the undergrowth. Thorn Genesis toes the line between pain and disassociation, and you’re welcome to undertake this pilgrimage upon the thorny path – or not.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: I, Voidhanger Records
Website: too kvlt
Releases Worldwide: April 7th, 2023

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