Warm, ritualistic, definitely-spiritual somehow, maybe religious-in-the-formal-sense, while at the same time being friendly, accessible, again, hippy-ish in its lack of hostility and openness to the listener.
Opens with the simple B riff of “Prepare the Ground” with its blend of tribal-funky and crushing. (No easy feat, that.)
Mike Scheidt and his Geddy Lee-ish high-end vocals welcome you, though direly, after one minute of rain and distant church bells at the beginning of the title track, and about halfway through it revolves around a triplet-on-the-low-string riff, the rhythm section lurching in and out, a voiceover popping up now and again.
“Before We Dreamed Of Two,” with its chant-like backup vocals at around 4:00, reminds me of every Zen retreat I’ve even been to– and is also metal as fuck.
Scheidt and his voice reiterate the great juxtaposition here: the vocals are the venom in the syrup, the arsenic in the punch– they’re raspy, often rageful and somewhat black metal-ish, and they contrast well with the slow, reverent riffs from which Atma is built.
How does it compare to older releases? It’s more immediate. Whereas the beginning of The Great Cessation, when that first low A chord bottoms out and just fucking resounds like a heartstring from the House of Usher, was a mighty, distant, massive Heraldic Summoning by the Gods (seriously– when you meet your God, if it doesn’t sound like that, change religions), Atma is a much subtler, more organic kind of mighty, like the old hippy playing his low tuned lapsteel guitar on the street corner, who gives you the impression he’s the embodiment of some Very Old Wisdom, and is only toying with you by being in the human form in the first place.
Atma is just as powerful as its predecessor, but much more “after-hours jam session at a tiny bar” versus Cessation‘s Roar From The Temples.
Frankly, I would’ve been just as satisfied with Cessation II– but this is an awesome surprise and riff on/evolution of that classic Yob sound. Definitely top 5 of the year.