Atrum Tempestas represent the more atmospheric side of Juha-Matti Perttunen’s (vocalist for Finnish melodic black metal outfit Catamenia) musical output. Formed in 2007, alongside fellow Finnish black metal musician Jarmo Kylmäaho, Perttunen has sought to create a much more introspective side to black metal.
Néant is the duo’s debut full length and, from the first minute of playing, it immediately evokes comparisons to like-minded atmospheric metal bands such as Altar Of Plagues and Agalloch. The emphasis is placed on creating an almost sorrowful mood, which also draws comparisons to Austere and Coldworld, though not necessarily as suicidal as those two artists get. There are moments of genuine serenity, such as the cleaner sounding guitar bits at the beginning of the opener “Quitter ceux qui étaient déjà partis.” The music goes up and down in tone, from an almost dream-like quality to a more metallic approach, though the transitions aren’t always smooth. On “Et après… le néant,” about a minute in, the music goes from the melancholy, slightly more downbeat style that you hear on the rest of the record to a harsher crunch. There’s still plenty of melody in the riff, but it just really changes the vibe way too abruptly, which is unfortunate, because the song as a whole is a decent, moody piece of music.
The production sounds a little home-made, and when the songs slow down, the fact that Atrum Tempestas aren’t using a live drum kit is glaringly apparent. I don’t have anything against electronic drums, if they’re mixed in properly, but in the case of Néant they really stand out like a sore thumb. Another fly in the soup are the transitions; when the song goes into a crunchier guitar section, the guitar sounds like it was plugged straight into a computer. Again, if mixed well, this wouldn’t be a problem, but if you’re going for a more ambient sound, you want a little more echo in your guitar tone, and that doesn’t always happen with this record.
Atrum Tempestas have some great ideas, and there are moments of “holy shit, this is good,” but there are definitely some kinks to work out. Fans of the atmospheric side of black metal along the lines of Altar Of Plagues and Agalloch will certainly enjoy Néant, just like I did.. at least for the most part. With a little more tweaking, some stronger production, Atrum Tempestas could really become a band to look out for.