There’s a certain compromise one makes with studio-exclusive projects. Being a metal musician or even a musician in general, there is a realistic comprehension of the capabilities of a record as an artistic “product” in the modern era. Understandably, attaching such a phrase to an artistic effort seems inhumane to fans of music, to bands, and even to the majority of independent record labels. While we may not consider a record to be a minimalistic economic tool, that is, in theory, its purpose. A record’s release begins a domino effect of promotion, touring, and more touring. With studio-based projects, however, such a cycle is entirely out of the question. There is no chance of touring (with the exception of touring musicians, perhaps. Yet, that tends to be rather expensive), which translates to a smaller base of promotion, amounting to hardly any financial gain. As such, any ulterior motives that could potentially be conjured with the conception of art are immediately stomped-out in favor of the pure desire to simply create. That alone is the compromise. Such a compromise has been embraced via Alex Gallegos, the founder/mastermind of Atlas Entity. Alex is a man who simply desires to create music and to express his art without compromise. He has taken four years since the first musical effort the band put forth to truly refocus his craft and re-evaluate himself as a musician, and thus we have the debut record from Atlas Entity, entitled Beneath the Cosmic Silence.
Our tale begins five years ago when Gallegos formed a minor side project (being Atlas Entity) as an addition to his main project Proletariat Combat Machine in 2014. The same year, Proletariat Combat Machine split up, leaving Alex to be fully dedicated to writing exclusively for Atlas Entity. Looking for a drummer to play on the EP, Alex contacted Samus Paulicelli of Decrepit Birth due to an outstanding live performance Alex had caught in St. Petersburg some years prior. With that, the first EP was underway. Enceladus had released August 9th, 2015 to high praise within the metal underground. It was reviewed and featured in a variety of technical death metal based sites and forums, with tech-death fans eagerly awaiting their next effort. While it has been four years since the release of the Enceladus EP, the time has not gone to waste. For, in the four years from Enceladus to Beneath the Cosmic Silence, Gallegos has been truly honing in on his composition and songwriting abilities, carving out his inner soul as a musician. The result is apparent on Beneath the Cosmic Silence.
Atlas Entity has its hands in many of metal’s underground subgenres, yet it never fully commits to any one of them, instead choosing to utilize the tonality of each varying element to illustrate the core theme of the record. Sure, the band is technically categorized as a progressive death metal outfit. While this categorization is rather fitting, it seems that such a label serves as a contrarian to the groundbreaking components of the songwriting, in this record especially. Said components include the unique chordal tonalities and atmosphere of black metal, the catchy riffs and rhythmic styling of melodic death metal, and the technicality of technical death metal. It seems simple enough, a metal outfit covering a good chunk of ground in regards to subgenres. Yet, Gallegos gently weaves each element in various segments. Make no mistake, Alex’s sense of tonal understanding isn’t an act of musical compromise; rather, it allows him to bend the archetypes of each for proper musical storytelling.
From the very first track, you understand the immense aura of versatility you’ll be immersing yourself within Beneath the Cosmic Silence’s sonic depths. The opening track “Adorned in Red” has elements of Folk Metal, showcasing a steady build-up of acoustic and electric guitar layering into the meat and bones of the record, found in the next track “In the Shadow of the Mountain pt. 1”. From there, Alex’s abilities as a musician are unleashed without a shred of compromise. He still takes care to revisit certain sub-genre aesthetics in the name of the musical journey he intends to create. Said acoustic elements are repeated several times throughout, such as on the tracks “In the Shadow of the Mountain pt. 2” and “Windswept.” Of course, Alex breaks out his tech-death and melo-death roots as well, which are the spotlight on tracks such as “Murmurs of Descent” and “Visions of Gold.” While the technical aspect of his playing is certainly worthy of the technical death metal description, every element of the music is placed accordingly in the name of the song and the record itself. The lead guitar especially sticks out, ironically, due to the fact that it doesn’t. It serves as an impactful element of the songwriting rather than a symbol of technical prowess. This same principle goes for every element of Gallegos’s musicianship, whether it be with the guitar, bass, vocals/gutturals, and even the keyboard in some instances. He’s able to contrast extremity with breathtaking delicacy, whether it be in the contrast of the acoustic to distorted guitar elements, or the clean to guttural vocal approach.
Lest we forget about the godfather of blast beats himself, Mr. Samus Paulicelli. Samus is rearing to go prior to the record even kicking off, layering double bass and blasts atop the subtle dynamics found within the record opener “Adorned in Red,” and he doesn’t hold back the rest of the record either. Samus is such a remarkable character as a musician, as he always outperforms himself and challenges his abilities. Every opportunity he has to improve as a musician, he takes it without fail, which is a quality somewhat lost to the rushed musical landscape we reside within today. Collaborating with musicians such as Devin Townsend and Alex Gallegos requires a completely different approach as compared to the pure brutality of Decrepit Birth, at least it would seem to be. Yet he still puts forth a performance of an undeniably elevating stature. Albeit, it’s not performing a drum cover of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” with dildos instead of drum sticks (which you can watch here, if that sounds promising), his playing brings a unique tonal element to the record, whereas a simple drum machine or even other death metal-based drummers couldn’t begin to replicate said tonality.
To translate the written genius of “Beneath the Cosmic Silence” into recorded scripture, Atlas Entity handed off the mixing and mastering of the record to Grant McFarland and Carson Slovak at Atrium Audio in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Within the outskirts of the studio lies the lush vegetation of Pennsylvania, a subtle detail that may very well have found its way into the record’s sonic structure, heightening its thematic presence even further. In terms of the technical aspects, the studio and producers have a fantastic resume in terms of clients, the most notable as of late being Rivers of Nihil with 2018’s acclaimed full-length Where Owls Know My Name. Essentially, you know what to expect production-wise. It’s balanced, clean, and is able to truly allow for the complete musical package to be on display.
With the musicianship and production quality being apparent as exceptional, the question remains: do they serve the record’s purpose? The theme of the Beneath the Cosmic Silence is made especially clear with the album artwork (being photos taken by Alex while exploring the environment during his travels within the US), as well as the mere title of the record. It’s more a collection of folklore than a grand concept, however. As stated by the band “Songs from Beneath the Cosmic Silence cover various topics and stories such as becoming the wendigo, desert ghosts searching for their rightful place, lost gold beneath the mountains of Arizona, and more.” Although each track contains layers of various genres blended together as mentioned prior, the different themes allow for each song to be more lenient on a particular style, translating to a greater listening experience due to the variety. Each musical style suits it’s corralating theme to a tee, which is a pre-determined requirement on such a record.
After traversing the sonic altitudes of life, nature, and the beautiful qualities of it all, a grand climax is, without a doubt, a necessity. Luckily, that’s what “Celestial Noise” happens to be. The track is a roughly seven and a half minute closure to an already breathtaking journey, giving both a sonic and narrative recap to the trails traversed since the record’s beginning. In addition to being an excellent track, esteemed technical death metal legend Rafael Trujillo is featured with a guest solo. Despite being involved with Obscura for merely four years, Rafael has made quite a name for himself with his solo-work on Diluvium. This is partially due to his Jazz studies at the Amsterdam University of the Arts, and partially because the dude’s simply a fantastic fucking guitarist. His lead work is just as excellent within the “Celestial Noise,” giving the music a new sense of character as it comes to a close. We’re beyond stoked at IMV to give you the first listen to such a phenomenal track, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Beneath the Cosmic Silence will be released June 14th, 2019 via Bandcamp. Go preorder it!