Atrium Carceri

Album Title: 
Forgotten Gods
Release Date: 
Tuesday, November 7, 2023
Review Type: 

Country (for what it’s worth): U.S.A. (formerly: Sweden)

Music + lyrics: Simon Heath

Production + mastering: Simon Heath

Artwork: Simon Heath

Type: sixteen-paged hard-cover digi-book CD (with liner notes & conceptual poetry) + digital

Duration: about fifty minutes

Genre: Esoteric / Ritual / Cinematic / Dark / Apocalyptic / Droning / Dungeon / Horror Ambient

Introduction: not necessary (for this is such famous project)…

Though, since I am a kind human being, a short word before going over to the sonic content. Atrium Carceri is one of the many outfits of Sweden-born multi-disciplinary artist Simon Heath, owner of Cryo Chamber (and new sister-label Cryo Crypt) and the ‘brain’ behind other projects, such as Mountain Realm (a new Dungeon Synth-oriented outfit that debuts on that newest sublabel), Sabled Sun, Cryo Chamber Collaboration, Za Frûmi a.o. For Forgotten Gods, Simon did everything himself once more: song-writing and recording, texts and visual art, production and mastering, and releasing duties.

Concept: an exploration of an archaic yet hidden civilization beneath our planet’s surface, where ancient yet cosmic beings guard ceremonial and powerful artifacts from beyond unknown dimensions; dimensions beyond our knowledge of space and time. Here roam the forgotten gods whom the unfortunate dwellers of the dark worship. Here roam the hybrid creatures forged in the Machine City as its decaying birthing chambers cry for human eggs and seminal fluids. Here the gates to the ancient city opens momentarily into the eternal labyrinth if you’d be unwise enough to visit… It’s a horrific and dystopic sci-fi-like soundtrack, as you can guess… Did anyone mention Lovecraft, by the way?

Once again, Forgotten Gods is slightly different again from the whole Atrium Carceri discography. With this album, Simon delves deeper into the mystic worlds of Occult Ambient, with more focus this time on ritualistic, archaic and mesmerizing content, and less droning or industrialized elements. The average duration of the internally varying yet externally very cohesive chapters is not that extended (from two to six and a half minutes; most of them clocking for about four to five minutes), yet the more it makes this album versatile; more adventurous through unexplored depths of sonority and execution… Let’s say it makes sense with certainty…

Since all ‘tracks’ do vary intrinsically from each-other when focusing on the purely auditive side of Forgotten Gods, I’ll have a short descriptive approach for all of them; yet at mentioned before, it is a necessity to see the whole package as one huge narrative.

Pathway To Nothing (04:42): a mostly mysterious, enigmatic song with a dungeon / monastery-like vibe; deep-rumbling basses and multiple floating synth-lines, hypnotic chants, doomed beats at a distance, additional percussions and field-recorded hints, resulting in a secret, occult and gloomy introduction to this album.

Subterrestrial Threshold (02:02): injected by vagarious mechanoid elements, this track explores the darker corners of the underworld; more percussion components, more eldritch spheres, more alienated details…

Revelation From The Book Of The Flesh (04:12): starting with several beautiful choir chants, ethereal, Gregorian-like, even fairylike; added by deep-doomed drones and mesmerizing synth-waves, and eventually evolving into an energetic, almost combative hymn with epic chants and militant drums.

Torturer (04:18): an haunting piece of industrial-laden ambience, including electronic basses, grim loops, avantgarde textures, metallic percussions and distorted spoken words (done by Simon himself).

Ritual For The Abyss (04:24): post-apocalypsism (indeed it is like the soundtrack for post-apocalyptic savagery), gloomy esotery and recalcitrant industrialism get canalized into an immense ceremony with a mostly suffocative, somewhat diabolic character; this mingles Black Ambient, Ritual Ambient and Dark Drone into one monumental epic of inescapable impending Doom; throaty voices, shrieking metallics, thundering bass-lines, blustering drones, a claustrophobic amalgam of discomfort and dimness…

Underground (06:38): this is the lengthiest composition, which starts in a mostly surreal manner (psychotropic and beguiling at the very same time), delving deep into a dungeon (one that contains hints of Aindulmedir, if you want to; cf. the excerpts with those purely desolate and lightless anti-energies that try to intoxicate, to asphyxiate the unaware listener). Psyche-twisting field-recordings and alienated samples, Psybient-oriented mental confusion, astral and extraneous additions above the misdoubt surface of digital manipulation, leading into, or towards, a modestly extended fragment of abyssal dread…

Chamber Of Rebirth (06:02): this track organically goes on in the vein of the former one, yet with a rather integer, introvert character at first. At almost 1/3rd of this track, respectively rusty strings, deep beats, and weird twists / field-recordings join, while the last third of Chamber Of Rebirth opens gates of volition and energy, with solid percussions, transcendental yet psychotic keyboard-lines and a hypnotic and pounding beat as spine.

Summoning Troupe (05:31): this composition opens in a dim way, adding characteristic doom-beats to the occult soundwaves. Yet after a couple of minutes, things turn more experimental, more rough and unpolished, more noisy and eccentric. For some reason, it brings Atrium Carceri’s collaborative works with Cities Last Broadcast to mind (and not for the first time, by the way), with these discordant Dark Jazz / Film Noir accessories.

Shrieking Of Angels (03:50): another overwhelming effort with an emphasis on darkened powers, forbidden rituals, and wretched dreamworlds; this song is like an elegy of isolationist sufferance, a harmony of desolation and anguish, through militant drums, secretive synth-melodies and sombre drone-lines, rhythmic and pushing, pulsating and gloomy. Shrieking Of Angels has an expeditious vigour, yet it maintains a nebulous character as well.

Empty Vessel (03:42): almost melancholic, envisioning the ancient and the divine… With hints of sonic enlightenment and divulgation, Empty Vessel sounds more extravert and manifest. This track too comes with raw-edged strings and heavier beats on top of that nostalgic corpus of ethereal and proficient noise-sculpting.

Throne Room (04:40): once again endorsed by trancelike beats and elegiac waves of sound, and interspersed with metallic curves and reverberating palettes of tone-production, Throne Room eventually accompanies the listener into the secret halls where old forgotten cults dwell around. This manifest of dream and delusion is a nice closure of an astonishing aural experience, called Forgotten Gods.

As said, a new step within Atrium Carceri’s existence, and then again not at all either; just an exploration of the next level, the following dimension being entered, another enigmatic world being translated through aural and visual artistry…