As you know, you won’t find many reviews about black metal releases on our blog – even though both Aidan and I are quite fond of this genre. If you haven’t noticed that yet, just have a look at our Best of 2021 lists and above all at these remarks of my colleague about his favourite black metal songs of the past year. Against this background you should not be completely surprised now to read a text about the Cologne melodic/symphonic black metal formation Atrium Noctis. I have to admit to my shame that I didn’t know these artists prior to this review and therefore threw myself into the promo work completely without expectations.
Atrium Noctis is undoubtedly a special case: With the fifth studio album, the Rhinelanders around mastermind Hydra Gorgonia celebrate their 20th anniversary. This output contains no new material, but the nine songs were completely re-recorded. In short: Even for long-time fans of the band it is worthwhile to deal with the presented record. For newbies like me, the latter is even the perfect introduction.
Atrium Noctis is to be characterized first of all as follows: it is exceptionally multifaceted (also on the language level). The music is almost movie-like staged and stimulates the head cinema of the attentive listener. Remarkable is how much happens in the single tracks, which all display a character of their own. The band unquestionably goes to work with a lot of attention to detail – even after several playthroughs there will be much to discover.
Moreover, this anniversary album is a highly emotional affair: I am especially attracted by the wonderful, dreamy-melancholic keyboard passages and the varied, (mostly) black metal-typical vocals, which qualitatively meet the highest standards; the angelic female vocals, which are discreetly sprinkled in at the appropriate places, have their charm as well. But I must also highlight the great guitar work: if you like modern, melodic black metal, you will get your money’s worth here – many incredibly hyped, younger bands have much less to offer on this level than Atrium Noctis.
Apart from that, it has to be mentioned that the sound of the record is excellent. The crew in the studio did a great job here – as did Metal Message by the way: If you as a reviewer also get the booklet as a PDF file in the promo package, you are happy all around. I often wonder why this actually almost never happens….
Conclusion: You have to let yourself get involved with this record – you can’t listen to this music on the side. Fast food is available elsewhere. On the first listen, you may even feel a bit overloaded – especially in case you don’t deal with bands like Atrium Noctis every day. Basically, the album should be enjoyed in different ways, in different places: A night stroll in the nature, be it in the forest or by a lake, could be the perfect setting. But also in the darkened, domestic music room, with headphones on the ears, Atrium Noctis unfolds its full effect. Anyway, if you take the necessary time, you can embark on an exciting journey to the dark side, which appeals to all senses and ideally has a Carthartian effect.