Albums like this one pose difficulties for the reviewer.
The Metal Observer is obviously dedicated to Metal and Hard Rock, and so its readership comes here with a specific set of expectations. However, this album, predominantly a collection of Folk tracks, with some a few heavier Folk-infused Metal songs included, contains much that fits neither of these broad categories of music, and therefore raises a dilemma: review the album on its merits, or review it with regard to how well its adheres to Metal and Hard Rock conventions? Given that ATROCITY have been playing Metal for years, that they have an established history of stylistic experimentation, and that many other Metal acts have released stylistic diversions that have met with critical acclaim, to skewer this album for diverging too much from Metal would be a disservice to the band and to this publication's readers.
Prior to this, my sole exposure to ATROCITY had been their Melodic Death Metal release “Atlantis,” a superior album that is a regular and frequent piece in my personal listening rotation. That album demonstrated ATROCITY as a band with a firm grasp of how to construct a melody, and it is this skill that is on brilliant display here. The songs are all pleasant to the ear, resplendent with deep hooks that never give in to excess, crossing over into the worst tendencies of contemporary Pop. The band stake their claim to this territory from the get-go, as second track “Call Of Yesteryear” is infectious and instantly memorable, yet does not succumb to simplistic hooks that will render the song irritating and stale after just a few listens.
Yet this is not merely an effort by an ATROCITY armed with a few traditional instruments. Guest vocalist Yasmin Krull appears on every non-instrumental track, always to the accompaniment of full-time ATROCITY vocalist (and presumably husband) Alexander Krull. Her presence gives a confident femininity to the music, and is the perfect complement to Alexander's baritone presence. Yasmin's voice is maiden-esque (not Maiden-esque), gracing the music with a traditional, rural nobility. It is not hyperbole here to declare that her presence, this album would not have succeeded nearly so well.
Of course, the caveat here bears repeating: of the eleven tracks on this album, only four - “Call Of Yesteryear,” “Black Mountain,” “Transilvania,” and “The Otherworld” - can be considered Hard Rock or Metal in any sense. TO be sure, the music is melodic, enjoyable, and often beautiful. However, fans looking for something heavier and more aggressive should probably look elsewhere.
(Online December 4, 2010)