Metal fans, especially those of a more extreme persuasion, tend to be very Conservative when it comes to their music. We celebrate ‘traditional’ takes on the genre, often at the expense of some of the more innovative and original artists out there. Therefore, its great to see an artist like Atlantis, a one-man project conceived by The Netherlands’ Gilson Heitinga, eschewing the clichés that surround doom and really playing with the parameters of the genre on this latest release, ‘Omens’.
If you’re looking for a traditional doom band, this isn’t where you’ll find it – whilst many of the features of the genre are here, with long, atmospheric, riff-based songs and a luxuriantly dark, grand, heavy atmosphere. However, you won’t find ‘Omens’ overflowing with familiar, bluesy pentatonics – instead, Heitinga builds up layer after crushing layer of crushing, harmonically rich chord work to create something that is reminiscent of Cloudkicker’s stunning instrumental post-rock/metal.
Atlantis’s music can hover around the same riff for minutes on end, but intelligent progression ensures that as a listener, you never find your attention slipping, especially in the midst of the sublimely thick and complex textures of title track ‘Omens’ or the eerie ‘Widowmaker’. Meanwhile, tracks like ‘The Path Into’ and segments of the magnificent ‘And She Drops The 7th Veil’ experiment with less heavy sounds, albeit just as dark, utilizing spaced-out ambient textures which only serve to accentuate the more powerful moments on the album.
I’ve already talked about Atlantis’s penchant for innovation, and this also extends to the instrumentation on ‘Omens’, perhaps its most interesting feature. Although the album is built on a familiar base of guitar, bass and drums, it heavily features electronic sounds. However, unlike most industrial rock/metal, which tends to present a binary between traditional ‘rock band’ instrumentation and electronic elements, synthesizers are blended flawlessly into Heitinga’s intelligent riffery. Equally, the trumpet in ‘Raptor’ fits well with the atmosphere of the album as a whole, and presents a welcome and unpredicted change from the expected format of a metal album.
Throughout this review, I’ve praised Atlantis for its more experimental, progressive elements, but I should also point out that traditional doom fans will find plenty of welcome familiarity in ‘Omens’ – ‘And She Drops The 7th Veil’ features a riff which will surely get any head nodding, and at its best, such as at the peak of ‘Widowmaker’, where a disturbing vocal sample aided by rippling, spacey rushes of static cascades into a hugely heavy, layered guitar riff. This most certainly isn’t progressivism for the sake of progressivism, and in ‘Omens’, Atlantis has created a genuinely original piece of music which I’d urge fans of interesting, unusual heavy music to check out.
Scribed by: Tal Fineman