Atrium Carceri - Metropolis
"We've been trapped for too long. Trapped inside this machine. The ancient Metropolis. It appears to control us."
Thus begins the afflictive tale of "Metropolis", the 11th full-length offering of master sonic storyteller Simon Heath, recording as Atrium Carceri. Stepping away somewhat from the archetypal approach to dark ambient music, Heath has created a concept album comprised of rich and grandiose soundscapes which are busier and more stratified than some of the more typical ambient compositions. Incidentally, the average track length on Metropolis is approximately four minutes, which allows for more fluid inter-thematic movement and deeper immersion.
The dark brilliance of "Metropolis" lies in the ease with which its palatial presence communicates the themes of its tracks to the listener. Here, Heath invites us to go on a perilous journey through Metropolis - a languishing prison city draped in fog and forgotten by God himself; and as the listener explores the city's crepuscular terrain, unnervingly lucid images of this colourless and oppressive macrocosm bombard their mind's eye.
One of the most notable tracks on "Metropolis" is 'Across the Sea of the Dead', which is a magnificent composition and a testament to Heath's talent. It commences with a chorus of tiny droplets hammering on an expansive body of water, contrasting with an unsettling rumbling that brings up an image of a formless and oppressive entity hovering above, waiting to descend. A lone bird's demented cry and distant explosions of thunder herald its arrival. And then it crashes down, cavernous and monumental, signified by a despondent melody that cuts through layers of obtrusive noise. The prisoners cower in fear, in abject acceptance of the absolute power of Metropolis's keepers, namely the malevolent ruling clan that had drained all life from this city.
The immersive and readily perceptible imagery of 'Decrepit City' enables one to almost smell the decaying streets and identify with the plight of the city's unwilling inhabitants, as they experience a distinct sense of desperation, perpetual unease and futility. On the bone-chilling '200 Days', the narrator sheds light on the horror of his existence inside Metropolis, where he and his fellow prisoners are enslaved in an endless waking nightmare, completely dehumanised and devoid of any semblance of hope.
On the whole, "Metropolis" simply shines in all respects, from its incredibly crisp production and razor-sharp instrumentation to the genuinely terrifying and vivid thematic content. If aliens had descended upon the Earth and demanded a quick and dirty explanation of the beast that is dark ambient music, this absolute treat for the auditory cortex would be the album to play to them.Sep 14 2015
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance
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