After completing the review of Seattle band Odd Logic’s Effigy and discussing interview questions with Sean Thompson, the band’s lead singer, I asked him if he had any other suggestions of bands from the Seattle area that he thought I should check out. One of the first he mentioned was A Sense of Gravity and I quickly acquired a copy of the band’s new album, Atrement. Sean said that they were heavier than Odd Logic, so I was warned.
Webster’s Online Dictionary describes ‘atrament’ as, “a very dark substance — usually used of liquids”, an example being “a puff of atrament emitted by the octopus”. This album is indeed very dark at times, with deep emotion and angst throughout. Often the lyrics are not sung, they are yelled or screamed, which is unfortunate as this often renders then indistinguishable.
However, on songs like the opener Drowning in the Ink you can hear the brilliance that Sean Thompson was talking about when he recommended this band. In fact, this opening song is another favorite song of the year for me.
Unfortunately, after a powerful lead guitar riff supported by strong drumming, the growling started and my attention towards the album began to end. The keyboards and musicianship are excellent, if only you could hear it above the rumble of the grumbling and growling. Some strong vocals can be heard trying to rise above, midway through the track, but for much of the song the growling and yelling ruins the track. Reclusive Peace this is not…and that is the irony.
Echo Chasers opens with a strong symphonic and power metal presence. The screamed lyrics are inaudible, except for “In life we all can’t be harmonized”…well…that is for sure here. Then it descends into screaming and deep throat yelling, mixed with powerful drums, bass and electric guitar.
The Divide opens with brilliant keyboards and great vocals teamed with heavy rhythms and guitars. The second-best track on the album with telling lyrics that you can actually hear and understand, but it still has its moments of gurgling, growling vocals. Artificially Ever After opens again with beautiful keyboards and zipping lead guitar mixed well with bass and drums. The vocals open with great optimism and emotion, the guitar and keyboard instrumentals which ensue later in the track making this another of the album’s best. The screaming comes back in like ’90s rap metal, but it is tolerable alongside the brilliant musicianship they are delivering.
Revenant is so full of growling and screaming that I actually just skipped through it, although its opening guitar picking showed so much promise…
Guise of Complacency reminds me a lot of Dream Theater’s thankfully brief experiment with screaming metal on Train of Thought and, to a lesser degree, the Systematic Chaos albums. Shadowed Lines opens with soft plucked guitar, like classic Rush. Great vocals and lyrics with supporting piano making this another of the best tracks. Promised None, The Projectionist, I, Recreant and Manic Void all have excellent musicianship and symphonic metal voyages. If only the growling and screaming could have been toned down they would all make excellent tracks.
So, this album ends up a mixed bag. I like the music and the regular vocals when the band is acting like a symphonic metal band. When they choose the death metal road, they lose me. Overall there are some high moments, but too many low moments to recommend this as highly as I did Odd Logic.
01. Drowning in the Ink (3:01)
02. Reclusive Peace (4:44)
03. Echo Chasers (4:59)
04. The Divide (5:38)
05. Artificially Ever After (6:13)
06. Revenant (2:18)
07. Guise of Complacency (7:21)
08. Shadowed Lines (6:02)
09. Promised None (5:56)
10. The Projectionist (4:57)
11. I, Recreant (7:34)
12. Manic Void (8:56)
Total Time – 67:39
C.J. Jenkins – Vocals
Brendon Williams – Guitars, Programming, Production
Morgan Wick – Guitars
Brandon Morris – Keyboards, Guitars
Pete Breene – Drums
Chance Unterseher – Bass
Record Label: n/a
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Date of Release: 18th November 2016