White Arms Of Athena – White Arms Of Athena (2014) Review

4/5

Skulls

Artist White Arms of Athena Album White Arms of Athena Year Released: 2 December 2014
Label Prosthetic Records Genre Progressive Metal | Progressive Rock

Hearing a band that blends ambient and atmospheric textures with frantic prog-metal creates a sort of paradox. It’s contradictory in its nature. But that is exactly what White Arms of Athena have set their hearts on creating for their self-titled album. To be able to pull this off they recruited GodCity to their cause. Kurt Ballou makes albums feel otherworldly and big, and he helps bands discover sounds in their repertoire that may have been overlooked. This time White Arms of Athema have done it, they brought a calm and soothing overtone to their metal presence.

The opening of the album, “Truth, The Greatest Lie Ever Told,” was unexpected. The entire time I was waiting for an explosion of distorted guitars, vicious screams, and booming drums. What I received was a reflective vocal choir peacefully enchanting my ears. OK, surely the next song will start with a bang. Nope. “Heavy Sleep” follows with absolute dissonance, allowing for it to build before showing off the heaviest the band can dive into. The same approach is used for “On The Edge,” but it ends with pulsating guitar chords and a wah-wah washed solo.

White Arms of Athena is nearly 40 minutes long, helped by the fact there is an 11-minute behemoth of a track entitled “This Transition” that takes too long to settle down from the echoing drones and timpani rolls. Once the song sets in, it becomes interesting again. This track is mellowed out and focuses on the vocals, which become larger and larger as the song reaches its climax. And when the climax blasts through the speakers it was what I was waiting for. Hyperactive breakdowns combined with discordant riffs and visceral screams. The bass sparks life into the song with it’s grinding bellows. “Manifest; Withdrawl” is the most straight-forward progressive metal song, blasting distorted atypically timed riffs with quick melodic leads for its entire duration.

The closing track, “The ‘I,'” is a reflection on the past musical journey that has just happened and the lyrics add to this somber ballad: “I choose to stop dividing, I see it’s only me I’m fighting.” For the first four minutes the song tricks you into thinking the explosion is happening, instead extending it to a final fight for musical space. All the instruments are harmoniously trying to grasp a motif and it ends as peacefully as it began.

The Verdict:

White Arms of Athena have composed a complex self-titled album. At times the drones and instrumentals can become long and cumbersome, but the rewards are sheer eruptions of a familiar dissonance. The album sounds gorgeous and the crystal clear clean sections really create a separate tone for the album. Definitely worth a listen for fans of progressive music.

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