The short, split 2012 release from Alaric and Atriarch serves as a good sampling for a certain state of metal for the year, namely something reaching back for strains not so much rooted in black/death metal than in, ultimately, early-'80s goth rock dreams and parallel nightmares. The three tracks from Alaric really underscore this from the start, as the opening "Memory Assault" couldn't be more of a rework of the earliest years of the 4AD label via the Cocteau Twins, Modern English, and similar others, thanks to dark shimmering guitar feedback and gloom -- and especially the bass. The intentionally strained vocals are the icing on the cake, something that "So Far Down" and "Weep" both equally deliver on as well. The former has a sudden break that pumps up the song even further, with the switch to a sudden strident pronouncement style in the singing upping the positive punk/proto-emo feeling in a striking way. Atriarch's two tracks are, in comparison, a bit clearer in impact and perhaps a little less lost in the extremes -- more obviously "metal" in a stereotypical view of the genre, but always framed by a lost and strange rumble not far at all from where Alaric find themselves. The droning beginning to "Offerings" could almost feel like a very early Associates number -- at least, sans Billy Mackenzie's one of a kind vocals -- but the switch to more rapid-fire rhythms at points brings the death metal in a little more clearly in comparison.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett