As the year winds down to a close, one would expect a decline in the quality of new releases. Of course, the record companies are going to wait out releasing sure fire sellers to start off their first quarter with a bang. And this leaves room for some relatively lesser known acts to drop discs without being overshadowed by their more popular counterparts. One group that has elected to avoid the bum rush of the new fiscal year is WHITE ARMS OF ATHENA, whose self-titled sophomore effort hit is out now through Prosthetic Records.
Admittedly, I was not aware of the group prior to seeing that their record was up for grabs from The Maestro. When I checked out a teaser video for the track “Heavy Sleep”, I was pulled in by the tone of the group’s vocalist. It resembled that of Tim from VISION OF DISORDER so much so that I thought this was another side project for the singer, and, hopefully, a better one than his last group, BLOODSIMPLE. On top of that similarity, the music ushered in my head images of MASTADON, tripping on LSD. So I was fairly stoked to give it a listen. My finding was not too far off from my initial take. Although the quintet is not fronted by the former VOD singer, they are in possession of a very formidable vocalist, with an absurd rasp, and surprisingly well lit range.
The musical elements of the record float between dirty garage prog rock metal and slightly psychedelic acid rock, showing a collaborative effort to pull from multiple genres of influence. The melding of these elements brings about some of the most interesting sounds I’ve laid ears upon this year. I offer example of the eleven minute opus that is “This Transition”. However, that’s not to say that the album wasn’t without its share of filler. “Truth, The Greatest Lie Ever Told” and “Time Is Nothing (Or Maybe Just One Thing)” are obvious transition tracks, much like the noise tracks on any TOOL record. And I understand these parts are there to be artsy, however, they always struck me as somewhat of a waste.
Despite finding some great moments and movements throughout the disc, WHITE ARMS OF ATHENA ultimately struck me as having been a trifle rushed. Where it is clear to see the group is evolving, it is also clear that some of the development was not given the time needed to flourish, leaving some potentially great moments on the table. That said, it also wasn’t exactly pisspoor, either. I see this disc as being a step, not so much in the right direction as much as it was a step towards it. And in a scene that is shifting to provide increased interest and support of progressively minded acts, it is a transformation that will assist the group on their follow up efforts. Thus, while their self-titled album was not a complete win, it was a noble attempt that deserves a listen.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “This Transition”, “Manifest: Withdrawal”, “Participating In and Awakening to the Cycle” and “The “I””
WRITTEN BY FRENCH CHEESE