Arx Atrata / The Reflective Atmospheric Black Metal Of A Reckoning

Arx Atrata, the solo atmospheric Black Metal project, was summoned into life back in 2013 beneath the boughs of ancient Sherwood Forest in the heart of England by multi-instrumentalist Ben Sizer. Now we have the return, with full-length number four, A Reckoning. This is a beautifully reflective and easy listen that delivers seven tracks spanning fifty-three minutes. So, there are some lengthy pieces once again in which to immerse yourself.

Arx Atrata – A Reckoning (Independent)

Release Date: 5 July 2024

Words: Jools Green

A Reckoning continues to find inspiration in existentialism, life and death and the past. So prepare to lose yourself within a shadowy landscape as you journey through this melancholic and reflectively atmospheric offering.

Arx Atrata - A Reckoning album cover
Arx Atrata – A Reckoning a melancholic and reflectively atmospheric offering.

We open with To Sunder The World, an instrumental track, which at over three minutes is too substantial to refer to as an intro. It’s a track in its own right, where haunting waves of gentle guitar and synth build gradually over restrained drum beats in repeating waves that develop depth as it progresses.

With I Was A Witness To His Passing opening seamlessly out of that previous piece, the driving riffs that rise and fall in haunting waves drop back to a more synth-led sound briefly. At the arrival of the acidic vocals, the driving riffs return, echoing the melody laid out by the synth.

The fluidity of this piece in the way it ebbs and builds and twists and turns is superb. A beautiful piece that is as strong, dark and dramatic as it is reflectively haunting and mournful. 

The title track, A Reckoning, is a powerful piece that balances pounding drum-dominated sections supporting the acidic vocals with quieter, more reflective keyboard-led segments in between. This melds together with an undulating and constantly shifting reflective melody, giving the whole track, once again, a very engaging flow to the sound.

At this point in the album, the tracks become significantly longer, with everything well over the seven-minute mark. Mercy Unearned is a reflective builder with slow guitar, keys and drums climbing in steady increments. It reaches its zenith at the arrival of tremolo picking and acidic vocals, ebbing and building between that and majestic swathes of haunting melody. This maintains the organic flow that gives this release so much appeal. A piece that is both lyrically and musically moving.

The Ruin Of My Past sounds exactly as the title suggests it will. Reflective as it opens, building into haunting blackened riffing, the acidic vocals are infused with sorrowful tones, delivering some superb protraction where needed. The second half keyboard adds reflective highlights to the sound, and the brief drop away and spoken element towards the close is reflectively impactful. The whole piece travels a beautifully bleak, mournful journey as it progresses.

Eerie and reflective to open, The Witch changes fluidly in pace and tempo. At times it’s enchantingly reflective, others rapidly building into something that has dark, slightly gothic undertones. A hugely engaging meld of moods.

Album closer, the expansive Our Dark Shadow, clocking up almost eleven minutes, is again a very reflective and complex piece. This delivers a succession of direction, pace and mood shifts applied with fluidic subtlety to maintain the harmonious nature of the journey the track takes.   

If you enjoyed the previous three offerings, A Reckoning will definitely not disappoint you. It builds on Ben’s past achievements and is a sublime listen and a great album to chill to.

It should also be of great interest to fans of bands like Winterfylleth, Saor and Fen. It will be released as a CD, CD/T-shirt bundle and digital format from A Reckoning | Arx Atrata (bandcamp.com).

Sleeve Notes

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