Around only 18 months ago, Finland’s Atlases released their full-length debut, Haar, and it felt like there was a spiritual successor to the (sadly now disbanded) exceptional Ghost Brigade. Since then, Atlases signed with Lifeforce Records and have readied their second album, Woe Portrait, for release on October 23rd. After such an impressive debut, improving on that level of quality is a serious challenge for any artist.
Centred in their self-defined genre of modern post-metal, their music branches into heavier realms of melodic death metal, whilst delicately picked guitars and strings add ambient flavours to the vast range of dynamics across the length of Woe Portrait – there are parts which would not be out of place on a relaxing post-rock playlist here as well. The deep growls drive heavier passages forwards, whilst clean vocals are often accompanied by textures of the aforementioned strings adding body and atmosphere. As well as the obvious comparisons to Ghost Brigade, there’s also shades of Swallow the Sun and Katatonia to Atlases’ sound; very welcome to music of their genre.
As with their previous release, the quality of Atlases’ songwriting shows most in the album’s longest tracks. When allowing even more time to build and set each track’s mood, their mastery shows – with the beautiful atmosphere set up in “The Unsung Lament pt. 1 – Apparition” building to a powerful conclusion of the song’s section. This is then gradually built upon in “…pt. 2 – Silhouettes,” with some of the heaviest passages on Woe Portrait herein found; elements which would not sound out of place from an artist at the top of their genre, Cult of Luna. The trade-off of heavy/quiet sections across this two-part track is wonderfully balanced, keeping momentum and contrast of dynamics in perfect equilibrium demonstrating the peak of the band’s compositional powers.
Further showcasing their skill at guiding the listener’s experience in mood in the palm of their hand, Atlases beautifully round off the intensity of the two-part “The Unsung Lament” with the purposefully building 7-minute plus “Phoenix Trail.” By the time Woe Portrait concludes it really is an album you want to hit play on again right away and listen through for a consecutive time. This is testament to not only the quality of music to be found within, but also the range achieved by Atlases throughout their sound – not once does a section feel out of place, and still alongside this there are places to appreciate post-rock, doom, melodic death metal and many genres in between. Woe Portrait shows the skillful brushstrokes of an artist with extraordinary talent on only their second release – and Atlases should feel proud of their accomplishment with this excellent album.
Woe Portrait Track Listing:
4. The Unsung Lament pt. 1 – Apparition
5. The Unsung Lament pt. 2 – Silhouettes
6. Phoenix Trail
Run Time: 47:11
Release Date: October 23 2020
Record Label: Lifeforce Records