Just when you thought it was all over, Aterrima emerge at the final gate of hell to deliver a masterclass in progressive extreme metal dexterity.

Release date: December 8, 2023 | Fiadh Productions | FacebookBandcamp

Exploring progressive metal is often a very painstaking but rewarding experience, that is, when you’re left with an abundance of artists showcasing their dexterity through complex time signatures, expansive song structures, and an endless hybridization of genres. Yet with this assortment of unconventional and experimental sounds, I find myself having to show a greater sense of commitment to one band than I would have to in any other genre, in order to get the very best listening experience. Thus, my attention was drawn almost instantly to blackened death metal experimenters Aterrima with the release of their debut full-length album A Name Engraved in Cold Soil. Active since 2017 in Boise, Idaho, Aterrima have spent time conjuring a dark and dissonant formula that encompasses elements of death metal, black metal, with jazz and folk leanings, with lyrical themes offering a unique and demising commentary on humanity’s relationship with nature. Through a flurry of single releases since the better part of the last few years, the US trio are now ready to awaken their inner carnality with this well-crafted selection of songs that I’m sure will be on top of a fair few metalheads end of year lists.

The philosophically imbued opener “Where I Lived, And What I Lived For”, sets an eerie mood through jarring layers of guitar feedback and naturistic soundscapes to commence a following onslaught of extremity. “Virga” acts as the first full length track that opens with a vicious death metal style progression, encompassing a dynamic range of delivery from the vocals that sits somewhere between Gojira’s Joe Duplantier and the earlier leanings of Opeth‘s Mikael Åkerfeldt. The album shows good promise of development in various sections that explore various time signatures and seep into more groove-oriented jams, for instance, “The Vulture of Your Wound” explores dexterous and almost atonal kinds of harmonies only to find their way into more stable grounds of death and thrash style riffing. The atmospheric tension further complements these early tracks.

“Lily of the Valley” opens with a straightforward black metal chord progression that consists of sinister vocals, minimalistic guitar riffs, and thunderous percussion. Yet these moments of simplicity are often met with periods of complexity, particularly through the implementation of minor scales and timbral shifts that allow the bass to really cut through and claim its own space for improvisation. It’s within these sections that you can really feel the need for experimentation, and this is quite evident through the clean use of vocals and smooth dynamic shifts. In “The Pall” one can really embrace the band’s inner voice that explores the themes of nature and the impact of humanity as a burden weighing down upon its plains. Wind-like soundscapes instil some colour, whist a juxtaposed, dissonant chord progression ensues in the instrumentation.

“Another Strange Body” persists with this dissonant experimentation taking many different twists and turns. The poetic vocal lines ride over these jazz-like rhythms and chromatic scales to combine a blackened level of discordance that one would expect to hear from an Imperial Triumphant track. The penultimate track “Murmurs in Searing Wind” further embraces the dark and twisted nature of our world, evil chords ring out and black metal ferocity signals a wave of darkness over our doomed world. “Emulsion” ends the album in a very unique and tasteful way, you sort of begin to recognise the band’s thought process in how this record was to be presented. An apprehensive, chamber-like progression is made up of clean sounding jazz chords and minimalistic percussive elements whilst the vocals chant a mournful and hypnotic sacrament. By the midway mark, be prepared for a climactic release of blackened doom metal excellence. We are left by the end absorbed in these sinister textures and a demising extreme metal palate.

Whilst A Name Engraved in Cold Soil may seem like a commitment for you to take the time and really get to grips with the sheer level of dynamism on display here, I assure you it will be rewarding. The utmost degree of musicianship is uncharted and you hear this from the precision in the instrumentation to the crisp production, you don’t really know what you’re appreciating until you have fully become absorbed by the range of experimentation and sonic exploration that this album exhibits. Whilst there seems like a long way to go for Aterrima, one thing is for sure, they mean business in the extreme metal landscape.

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