#ATER Somber

2 min read

Band: ATER
Title: Somber
Label: Torque Records
Release Date: 19 April 2024
Country: Chile
Format Reviewed: Digital Stream

Seemingly existing with its own unique laws of nature, Somber (the second album by Chilian extreme progressive metal entity ATER) is like a gigantic being, stalking across an alien landscape. Carried on manifold, dislocated limbs, it moves in patterns at first confusing to the eye (or ear), but with absolute certainty, following its own mechanical principles.

Or, if you want a less lyrical description, ATER (the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist/ producer Fernando “Feroz” Bühring) take the signature, multi-rhythmic layering of Meshuggah, feed it into a bludgeoning, mid-tempo attack, washed in atmospherics, coloured with black metal charges, a sensitivity to pacing and just when you think you’ve got them figured out, stun you with moments of soaring majesty.

Somber is rather good, to put it mildly.

The opening one, two of “Striges” and “Descending” set the scene of shifting tectonic plates, as the pounding rhythms, down-tuned guitars and growling vocals pull the listener to and fro, while exerting a bone-crushing gravity.

But it’s with the title track that the album really starts to thrill. A more digestible, headbanging riff starts the track, (but in 5/4 and 3/4 time, just in case you get too comfortable). Then the crazy gravity shifts as the laws of nature mutate. It’s a thrilling journey. Where are we being dragged?

These mutations set up the album’s most dramatic shifts. “Through The Portal” neatly changes pace, with great, menacing tom-heavy drum rolls driving the track, before an awesome passage (around 02:45 in) explodes in a march of bending, squealing guitar and gut-twisting bass.

Perhaps the jewel in the album’s crown comes mid-way through “Ignis Immortalis” where the band soars into a passage that could be described as like the chanting of trappist monks on Mars. As the band does several times in the course of the album, brutality is temporarily stripped away, replaced by mournful beauty. Powerful, spine-tingling stuff.

Just to cement the realisation that ATER can’t be fully pegged at any point, there’s still space later for a couple of Opeth-style atmospheric prog-metal passages (and one great, melodic guitar-hero solo) in amongst the evolving, bone crushing rhythms.

For a band that makes no secret of who their musical heroes are, ATER demonstrates masterfully how to take inspiration and create heavy majesty. 8.5/10 Tom Osman


8.5/10 To Greatness and Glory!
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