Atala – Labyrinth of Ashmeda
Label: Salt of the Earth Records
Release Date: January 26th, 2018
Atala, what can I say? I love Doom/Sludge metal, so this is right up my alley. I listened to this album front to back at least five times, trying to grip exactly what I was thinking. Here is the thing, every time I turned it on, I quit thinking, I just felt. You know how you read the same sentence over and over again and cannot understand what you are reading, same idea, different outcome. I could understand, but it was much more on an emotional level.
Let me just start by saying, this sound, comes from THREE people. That is something to stop and be amazed at all in itself. Maybe Atala are wizards, or warlocks, or maybe they are just incredible musicians. The magic of this trio originates out of Twentynine Palms, CA and consists of members: Kyle Stratton (guitar and vocals), Jeff Tedtaotao (drums), and Dave Horn (bass). They banded together in 2013. Their first album, Shaman’s Path of the Serpent, came out in 2016.
Labyrinth of Ashmedai . Track 1, “Grains of Sand”, is the epitome of the doom/sludge genre. It hits you right off with intense guitar riffs, smoky bass lines, thick drum beats, and growly vocals. Some bands do this genre incredibly wrong, and some bands do it incredibly right, these guys are very clearly the latter. Everything about it is doom perfection. Which leads me to “Tabernacle of”. After track 1, I thought I knew what I was in for, I was wrong. “Tabernacle of” is a complete masterpiece, in my humble opinion. It continues to hypnotize my ears with the musical elements of magical sounds, but then Kyle sings. Bear with me here as I try to explain what I hear. It is almost a David Gilmour type of vocals but more growly. Or Damon Fox from BigElf, (if you do not know who this is, check them out and thank me later). It is difficult to explain, but it is done beautifully. Every part of this song hit my soul and stayed comfortably there. Track 3, “Death’s Dark Tomb”, what can I even say at this point? It is crunchy and powerful. This 8-minute-plus song will enlighten those metal synapses and mesmerize you to complete oblivion. This entire album has this effect.
“I am Legion” is next. After every song I think, this is my favorite. Then the next song starts and I think, no this is my favorite. “I am Legion” is the winner. It is so very haunting, yet so very beautiful. It is a chaotic storm, in the middle of a field of poppy’s. It is light, it is dark. It is a song you will want to put on repeat.
“Wilted Leaf”, throat punches you right from the start. You will even get a bit of a guitar solo with this one. Finally, “Infernal” brings a bittersweet ending to an amazing album. The track starts off slow and steady, with a relaxed composition. Over a minute into the song, all of the instruments pound into the spotlight flawlessly. Once again, Kyle sings his clean vocals so melodically it makes you want to close your eyes and enjoy the ride. This song is incredibly written and performed. It will leave you wanting more.
Labyrinth of Ashmedai is immaculate from beginning to end. If you are a fan of this genre, Atala is a must for your playlist.
Side note: My computer crashed five times while I wrote this review. I remained completely calm the whole time. That is how much this music effected my mind and soul.