This is my first exposure to Arx Atrata, although it is their third full-length release. As is usual, I played the album without reading the accompanying press release until it was time to write the review, and I wasn’t sure which country they were from based on the music, and was a little surprised to discover they were English. I was even more surprised to discover that “they” were a “he” in the form of Ben Sizer who provides all instruments and vocals. To me this is what I think of when someone tells me an album is black metal, from a complex logo through to frantic riffing with plenty of atmosphere, a strong sense of dynamics and control, and powerful vocals. Black metal, like all sub genres, has been through a great many changes over the years and they have spawned further sub genres in their own right, but is what black metal should be about, with the feeling of an evil horde ready to burst out of a cavern and take your children.
There are some times when it is a little too over produced, and a slightly more raw sound may have improved the overall feel of the album, but even as it is this is still a really powerful release and one that fans of the genre, particularly those who are fond of the likes of Agalloch, will find a great deal here to enjoy. It is majestic, all encompassing, and a damn fine listen – that this is being produced solely by one individual is incredible, and is worth seeking out for those who want their metal black and their faces covered in corpsepaint.