** Nostalgic types need nourishment. Our days can't always be filled with blastbeats, dirty riffs, and socio-politico lyrics. We need to feel as if we're on another planet, in another world, some place not where we are now. To start the quest to spaces unknown, Decibel has compiled five killer atmospheric death metal songs to take you right into the weekend. Now, there's a fine line between atmospheric death and atmospheric doom/death (or death/doom), but we're not terribly interested in delineating such a line today. We're more interesting in the journey itself, the way these songs transport back to times that probably never happened, but they're as real as today.
5. Atten Ash - "Born"
North Carolina's Atten Ash aren't the most visible of the picks today, but don't let their obscurity stop you from imbibing in some of the finest atmospheric death to ever come out of the states. The group unleashed debut album, The Hourglass, independently in 2012. Now signed to Canada's Hypnotic Dirge, Atten Ash are likely to see more earballs on the reissue. Certainly, Atten Ash are for fans of Slumber, Woccon, October Tide, and Daylight Dies, where guitarist Barre Gambling has moonlighted over four great releases.
4. Mental Home - "Southern Calm Waters"
Russian atmospheric death metallers Mental Home had a brief rise to fame in the late '90s with their Black Art album. They signed to Century Media, got all Angel Rat, and the world suddenly said, "Mental Home?!...We're not interested!" The group are still active, having released the Ugra album in 2012. As for "Southern Calm Waters", this little gem is off Mental Home's hard-to-find debut, Vale. Production-wise, it's rough, but Sergey Kalachyov and Sergey Dmitriev know their way around a blue melody or two. Plus, the transitions, where smooth, are sublime.
3. Crypt of Kerberos - "The Sleeping God"
Sweden's Crypt of Kerberos were a one and done miracle. Debut album, World of Myths, had everything most bands of the day didn't. This is 1993, right? Black metal was on high order. Death metal was getting groovy. And doom metal -- a la My Dying Bride and Anathema -- was pounding hard in slow motion. But bands like Crypt of Kerberos were a rare breed, a cut of Edge of Sanity's cloth perhaps. They were different, however. The group's early days as death/doom maestros turned into highly proficient, keyboard-laced death, with guitarists Jonas Strandell and Peter Pettersson rifling off Malmsteenesque solos at will. "The Sleeping God" is an instrumental but it's a mind-blower. Again, 1993.
2. Fractal Gates - "Timeless" (feat. Sotiris - Septic Flesh)
French atmospheric death metallers Fractal Gates have a winner in 2013 effort Beyond the Self. Produced by Dan Swanö at Unisound, Beyond the Self's strengths are its songwriting (all great except for the Cheap Trick cover), its emotional outlay, and Stéphane Peudupin/Arnaud Hoarau's sorrowful lead/rhythm work. While Fractal Gates aren't an easy find on CD -- you can order direct from Great Dane Records -- Youtube has it all. Make sure you drop the band a line, telling them how great they are as you're enjoying the free tuneage though. They need the kick in the ass.
1. Enshine - "Resurgence"
"Resurgence" comes of Enshine's new album, Singularity. Featuring ex-Slumber/Atoma, current Exgenesis guitarist Jari Lindholm, Enshine's music is at once atmospheric and nostalgic. Lindholm has a way with constructing songs that make them feel light yet heavy with purpose. Certainly, there are few bands like Enshine now, unless you count Exgenesis and vocalist Sebastien Pierre's full-time band, Fractal Gates, but Decibel would like to hear from fans deeper into the rabbit hole than we are. Suggestions?