Review: A Sense of Gravity – Atrament

Review: A Sense of Gravity – Atrament

Nov 16

A Sense of Gravity - Atrament cover


A Sense of Gravity – Atrament (Progressive Metal; Self-Released)

Releases Nov. 18th, 2016


Just as every dog has its day, every music genre has its moment (then a post-moment, and eventually a retro-moment). If both quality of releases and quantity of new bands in the burgeoning scene are the pillar benchmarks to judge by, then the last handful of years have definitely been progressive metal and rock’s moment. From Haken to Tesseract and from Leprous to the ever-present grandmaster Devin Townsend, prog has had a healthy half-decade and we, as listeners, get to reap the benefits of great music. One of the brightest newcomers in the bunch is undoubtedly A Sense of Gravity out of Seattle, who emerged with an impressive-as-hell debut album of heavy jazz-flavored djent back in 2013 (and also made my end-year list that year). After a healthy period of writing, composing, and recording the band is back with Atrament, an album with less flair than its predecessor, but sees the band coalesce their developing sound into a vicious, technical, and multi-layered assault.

The first impression that there’s something with a lot of weight swinging towards you starts with the intro track “Drowning in the Ink”, which is a nice orchestral piece with soaring clean vocals laid over the top. The song has a great build, with the eventual payoff being “Reclusive Peace”, a dejnty, twidly, and heavy-as-hell track that gets things moving with the speed and heft that most of the rest of the album carries along. The writing seems a bit more consistent on Atrament relative to the debut; all the songs are unique amongst themselves for the most part, but they aren’t as spread over the map as before. Still on full display, however, is the tight musicianship of the band; the drumming is punchy and busy when it needs to be and lightly understated when called for, the bass is thankfully present and quite active, and the guitars, split between Brendon Williams, Morgan Wick, and Brandon Morris (who also handles keyboards) are technical enough to keep the listeners on their toes, but never overindulge for the sake of themselves. While the overall sound is quite heavy and aggressive, there is still an ample amount of breathing room amongst the tracks, like the light atmospherics in songs like “Shadowed Lines” and the outro to “Manic Void” which picks up the orchestral refrain from the opener again for a nice bookending effect.
Jenkins’ vocal delivery shifts between deathly growls, fierce snarls, and strong emotive cleans. While he’s skilled at all these different styles, his cleans are perhaps most impressive, not just for technical skill but for his sense of vocal melody. Also notable is his delivery in terms of the music he’s singing over; while most heavy music with alternating harsh and clean styles will have a standard approach to when each is used (harsh for the heavy verses and clean for the chorus), Jenkins performs his vocal gymnastics to the direction of where he feels the music calls for at any given moment. A furious and driving riff might have soaring cleans over it and a more subdued passage might have a classic metal wail sailing above it. The various combinations of instruments to vocals makes sense in context to each song and section, and the diversity definitely keeps things interesting.

Travail, in comparison to the new record, was a freer album; with more diversity, odd breakdowns, jazzy interludes, etc., while this new beast is a more focused and purposefully driven collection of songs. The band has narrowed its sound, trimming fat and leaving just the meat and bone and making for a more consistent listen back to front. This early in their career, the most important thing for the band is to differentiate themselves from the rest of the burgeoning modern prog scene, and they have done that with both of their albums so far. The heaviness, strong sense melody, and intricacies of the music best displayed on tracks like “Echo Chasers” and “Artificially Ever After” make this album a stand-out among its peers.

Conclusion: Atrament is a strong follow-up to a stellar debut; interesting songwriting, super heavy sound, and powerful melody all contribute to a great offering of modern progressive metal.


Connect to A Sense of Gravity on:

Their Website