Atra Hora - Metahom - (8/10)
Published on January 9, 2015
Atra Hora hails from Pyatigorsk, Russia, which is located in the North Caucasus area, situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian sea, just north of Georgia. The band has been active since 2006, releasing a demo in 2007 and two full lengths, Lost in Depths in 2010 and Via Combusta in 2012. According to various sources, the band initially played black metal before moving onto a blackened death metal sound in the mid-era. The band’s latest release, Metahom, which was put out at the end of August in 2014, sees the band shifting again, this time towards more of a melodic death metal sound. While the band hasn’t abandoned their blackened past, as traces still shine throughout the release, they instead focus on a modern sound with some progressive tendencies and dark atmospheres.
At thirty-four minutes, the seven tracks on Metahom fly past in short order. The EP consists of three new original tracks, two cover tracks and two new reworkings of songs from the band’s 2010 full length, one a remix and the other a re-recorded version. Perhaps it’s because of the mixed retinue of tracks that makes this EP feel so varied and diverse, but one can’t help but feel the broad swath painted by Atra Hora. Getting down to the music, the tracks can be split three ways; the new tracks, the covers and the reworked tracks. The band starts off with a bang, with the intense and driving opener, “Metamorphosis”. Cascading melodic death metal riffing rams head first into airy keyboard fills which builds into classy soloing and fast paced double kick patterns. The vocals focus on deep, earthen growls, sounding similar to a lot of blackened death metal acts. “Metahom” continues the assault, only switching the focus a prominent progressive metal styled keyboard pattern, with groove-laden chugging adorning the chorus while some scales in the background add a bit of ethnic flair. It’s here we get a peak at the clean vocals, which are smooth mid-range style. Both of these tracks, despite the heavy handed nature, have an extremely modern feel to them, which could be a result of the slick production and the influx of keyboards throughout the tracks.
Another new original track, “Tartaros” breezes by with a ethnic percussion, airy keyboards and Greek sounding strings, which allows a little breathing room before delving into their cover tracks. Interestingly, the band chose to cover tracks by the legendary neoclassical band Dead Can Dance and the Greek neofolk act Daemonia Nymphe. Atra Hora puts their own spin on the tracks via heavy, rhythmic riffing, double bass runs and growled vocals, but the keyboards take the forefront, bringing the melodies from each track. The two reworked tracks are also decent, with “A Voice From the Forgotten Depth” sounding extremely similar to the opening tracks, but with more of a focus on the guitar riffs. “They Go (Overdose Mix)” is where the band turns into left field. In true “mix” form, the track showcases electronic beats and plinky synthesized sounds. The vocals are buried for the most part, that is until some forced clean vocals ride out a few moments before diverting back to electronica to close out the song.
Overall, Atra Hora’s Metahom delivers the goods if you’re looking for melodic death metal with a lot of interesting elements mixed throughout. Mixing classic melodic death metal elements with tons of atmospheric keyboards and some modern elements, Atra Hora brings a fresh take on a rather stale genre. The excellent artwork by Mayhem Project gives a pretty good idea of what to expect; a modern take on a classic form. Despite a rough patch at the end, Metahom is definitely work looking into. Check out their Bandcamp page and support the underground.