Ataraxie – Slow Transcending Agony

Exactly ten years after its release, Slow Transcending Agony, the debut album of the French band Ataraxie, is released again in a renewed version and with the addition of a bonus track like The Tree Of Life And Death, a cover of the seminal Disembowelment. The Normandy band is undoubtedly one of the leading names in the European funeral death doom scene, although its production is not very rich in terms of full length releases, but what makes the difference here is the immense quality of each of the three releases (in addition to this album, Anhedonie from 2008 and L’Etre Et La Nausée from 2013). Talking about this last work, about two years ago, I said that Ataraxie had finally reached the top of the scene, and this feeling is amply supported by this retrospective examination that allows us to verify the evolution of the band and, at the same time, to see how much the sound had evolved and was already well above average. After the long introduction of the deadly instrumental A Step Into The Gloom, Funeral Hymn hurls the listener into the deepest abysses, plunging him into a dark despair revealing itself as a real funeral march that accompanies the endless path paved with an endless pain. Ataraxie, if possible, increases even more the dramatic pathos of the work; if the previous track still felt, partially, the inevitable influence of My Dying Bride, the self-titled piece is instead a magnificent and monolithic example of funeral doom that does not admit doubts or replicas: you love it, and that’s it. The title track would unfold in total darkness if it weren’t for a few acoustic hints that illuminate a scenario not dissimilar to those of Mournful Congregation (who in the same year, it’s worth remembering, gave birth to that masterpiece entitled The Monad Of Creation). Another Day Of Despondency lets loose a controlled death fury before the breathtaking slowdowns go to touch, in the rare melodic openings, the seminal moods of the albionic school of the early nineties. Finally, The Tree Of Life And Death is a fitting tribute to the Australian cult band Disembowelment, who made their mark on the death doom scene with just one album released in 1993; it should be noted that the track in question was recorded by Ataraxie with a new line-up featuring three guitarists. Without taking anything away from his bandmates, Jonathan Thery dominates Slow Transcending Agony thanks to his ability to combine a growl with an inhuman timbre, equalled today only by Daniel Neagoe, with outbursts in a scream of an almost depressive matrix, without the evocative potential of the songs being affected in the least. Ten years is a relatively short time in the history of a band, but in any case the album does not show any wrinkle, confirming itself as one of the best testimonies of the genre published in the new century.

2005 – Weird Truth Productions 2007 – Ostra Records 2015 – Weird Truth Productions