Atmospheres might sound like a generic djent band having a plural name that can be identified with the sound. At times this might be true – the music of Atmospheres definitely is atmospheric and can be considered djenty, but generic is the worst term you could print on the band’s label. After 2015’s record The Departure, the band became a little quiet. Lucky enough, they finally came back with new material: Reach!
A clock is ticking, just over 60 beats per minute, creating tension, creating expectation. What’s to expect? A soft beat comes in, with cymbals and drums building until an almost whispered voice appears. “Time”, a trilogy, starts Atmospheres‘ new record in a very soft and exciting way. Some synthesizers are creating more and more tension and the suspense rises until the first groove that literally is only drum and bass.
The bass sound on Reach is heavy, full and warm. It sounds similar to the energetic bass tone of KoRn bassist Fieldy around their Issues record. It almost sounds strange, but the bass seems to be more present than the guitars are. Another addition to Atmosphere‘s sound is the immersive use of piano, respectively synths that really add an ethereal The Contortionist aesthetic. The drums feature polyrhythmic sections, while the repetitive Meshuggah-esque grooves keep kinda minimalistic in comparison to some prog metal-orientated bands out there.
In the following, the band evolves into several songs that sometimes are very chuggy (“Nul“). Said song stands out with a slow paced groove and once again shows that the use of vocals on Reach is very washy. This isn’t meant in a bad way by any means. Indeed it totally fits the band’s aesthetic. The effects on the vocals affect the voice, being an additional element that doesn’t take off the focus too much. In choruses, the delay gets a bit laid-back, creating a more direct and catchable vocalising.
One of the record’s highlights and one of the songs that sum up the sound on Reach is definitely “Morph“. The song was used as a single before and definitely clarifies this with a catchy chorus, an ambient verse and very convincing groove sections. Atmospheres work with a more melodic break structure, which definitely makes this one stand out. The bandload of The Contortionist‘s guitar sound is given within “Inertia“, a song that works with a lot of tremolo guitar play. “Inertia“ could easily make an instrumental version of The Contortionist‘s newest output Clairvoyant. You just need to add Michael Lessard’s voice to it. Anyway this almost epigonal song definitely works with its shattering ambiance and growing dynamics.
Atmospheres also worked with female vocals that underline vocal parts some time. This definitely adds a bit more stability in the washy/almost slightly detuned voice. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t detuned at all!
An element in Reach that instantly comes to mind is also the use of electronica. Some beats are electronic only and deliver a high contrast to the heavy metal chugs. Atmospheres deliver a hybrid of modern electronic ambient music and 2000’s Meshuggah djent, while never losing their identity at all. Some grooves might become a little repetitive and some song structures seem to be repeat as well.
Reach closes with a nearly 10-minute-long reaching (pun intended) “Evolve“, An ambient track that works with a lot of effects and synths, while only being supported by slight cymbals and electronic drums. The drums again take on the introductory clock patterns of “Time“ and close the circle of Reach.
In comparison to other artists, you could take new The Contortionist and TesseracT, put them in a studio with Frederik Thordendal and mix it up gently. At least those bands come to mind when trying to categorize the style of music.
Reach is a record in between contemporary progressive metal music, electronica and a slight touch of indie music. Calling it djent wouldn’t fit, even though there are parts that could be categorized as djenty. Friends of ethereal grooves, hip-hop beats, and washy and ambient vocoder signing will love this record.
Notable Tracks: “Time“; “Mezame“; “Morph“
FFO: The Contortionist, TesseracT, Meshuggah