Album: Atlantean Symphony
Label: Minotauro Records
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Country: United Kingdom
Release Date: Europe: April 27th, 2018; USA: May 4th, 2018
Before I go any further in this review, I’m going to make something very clear; there are no blast beats, distorted guitars, howling vocals, or six string bass licks on this album. There are no sing-along choruses, air-drummable fills, or headbanging breakdowns. This album could barely be considered metal, from an aesthetic standpoint. But that does not mean that it is not metal; it just means it just has to be listened to a little bit differently.
Atlantean Symphony is best thought of as a single piece of music with 12 unique and gorgeous sections. The album is all symphonic and rather mellow in certain aspects. Dreamfire feels like the love child between Lustre and Liquid Mind; the ambient elements and the atmospheric black metal grandeur combine very well on this piece of music. Because of this, it feels as if the music is building a world, rather than telling a story like most traditional music.
“Across The Ageless Ocean” starts this musical landscape on a brooding note. After the wind and ocean sounds pull you into this unknown mysterious realm, the cellos play a simple melody that is gray and bleak, much like a rainy day without end. After that, the upper strings join in and expand this mystical world while transitioning into the next track.
The music on “Approaching Atlantean Monoliths” matches its name. Conveying a sense of mystery and awe, it is easy to picture large, esoteric structures that have seen histories and secrets that will forever remain unknown.
By the time the third track comes in, it’s easy to figure out where the rest of the album is going. A calm feel with a touch of melancholy and introspection woven in throughout. This makes sense because (like I mentioned earlier) this is all one large piece of music. What makes this great is that same feeling is present throughout, even though the instrumentation is different. When “Embraced By The Light of The Final Dawn” comes, it is a classical guitar that takes over the main melody, with the strings hanging the background, until the end. As with all the tracks on this album, this one is aptly named and it one can almost imagine feeling the warmth of the last ever sunrise, and the sadness that comes with it.
After that, the journey continues through “The Opening of Eternity” and into “A Reflection of Rebirth Through The Eyes of The Forlorn”. At this point, a change of pace would be nice. All of these tracks up to now and beyond are gorgeous, but they are centered around a similar tempo that makes the album seem to drag a little.
“Into The Temple of The Elements” is one of my favorite tracks. With a choir introduced and a synth that sounds like resonating glass, it paints the album with a darker color. This music feels like it came out of a Halo cutscene and brings to life a place that feels real but never existed. It feels as if walking into a temple from another planet, where no human has been before, and the wonder and awe that comes with it.
Passing beyond the shimmering “(Immersion Into) The Azure Mirror of Infinity” and through the peaceful “Tears of The Enlightened”, the scenery opens to the sonic wonders of “Of Grandeur And Fragility”. I mentioned before that all the titles of these tracks match the music that goes with them, but none do it quite as well as this one. Somehow, this music seems to create something so grand and striking, yet retain a sense of sacredness and frailty, such as the title implies. Like a place lost in time, only to be rediscovered. To stand there, amazed at how something so beautiful and breathtaking could withstand the test of time, but also understanding that some minute event could destroy the majesty of it all. That is what this track in particular conveys, and what the whole album has been building towards. Absolutely captivating.
Following the stunning previous tracks, it transitions seemlessly into “A Timeless Lamentation Carried Upon The Storm”. This is a short track, and rather thin by comparison to its predecessor, but it is a perfect follow-up. Quiet and sweet, it allows for a moment to take a breath before diving into the next section.
After two incredible moments of music, “Through Fire Into Legend” brings the change of pace that the album needs. It’s big, epic, and bold. With a grandiose opening, fast and intricate strings in the middle, and a reflective closing section, it follows up the previous two tracks quite nicely. This series of three tracks are the best moments of this album and is worth the wait.
Finally, the album closes on a somber and contemplative note. “An Epitaph Engraved In Water” carries a heavy weight, but leaves behind a peaceful feeling. It is a marvelous way to end the album, with the peaceful ocean sounds, the sparse piano melody, and a haunting church bell in the distance.
Atlantean Symphony sonically paints a world for any listener to explore. It has depth and wonder, mountains and valleys, and secrets that remain undiscovered. It is a breathtaking piece of art that everyone should enjoy. It does drag on after a while, but if you can make it to the end, it is well worth the wait. A journey is waiting for you, if you are willing to take the first step.
Metal isn’t just defined by the instruments, lyrics, or aesthetics; it is also defined by the feeling the music can elicit from the listener. After listening to this album, wouldn’t you agree?
1. Across The Ageless Ocean
2. Approaching Atlantean Monoliths
3. Embraced By The Light of The Final Dawn
4. The Opening of Eternity
5. A Reflection of Rebirth Through The Eyes of The Forlorn
6. Into The Temple of Elements
7. (Immersion Into) The Azure Mirror of Infinity
8. Tears of The Enlightened
9. Of Grandeur And Fragility
10. A Timeless Lamentation Carried Upon The Storm
11. Through Fire Into Legend
12. An Epitaph Engraved in Water
13. The Rains of Castamere
14. An Epitaph Engraved in Water MMXVIII
Total Play Time: 58:55