[Reviewed by stark]
“Atra Mors” means “Black Death”, so as you may have figured out. if someone names the album like this, it is obvious that a plague, a pestilence is a leitmotif here. Or a pandemic if you prefer using a “modern” vocabulary. You should know though that this one was released in 2019, way before this Covid shit made itself felt. Therefore it’s not like they took the easy way and did the album on the pandemic wave, so there’s no question of populism over here.
On the other hand, Corona Barathri and Paranoia Inducta has brought a theme which is quite “popular” within the dark genres anyway, no matter if we consider cinema, literature or visual arts. Do they offer anything new or refreshing on “Atra Mors”? I don’t think so. Was it their intention? I’m not sure about that either. Their main goal is to catch the evocative atmosphere of the Dark Ages and undoubtedly they succeeded at it.
It’s a split release, five tracks by Corona Barathri from Russia and four by Polish Paranoia Inducta. Though it has to be mentioned that the first Corona Barathri composition features some Paranoia sounds and samples. The cinematic feeling is achieved by the vast use of different sound ornaments intermingling with deep and thick drones. “Gingrina Tartari” is a shining example of that fact, as it is an epic journey through the wide fields covered with thousands of rotting bodies. it is sparkling with ideas: male and female chants, eastern flutes, ritual drums, bizarre strings… it’s all here, you name it. Like a movie for your ears. This tracks definitely stands out and – what’s curious – it is the only Corona Barathri piece made without any guests involved. While the following track “Elegia Pestilentiae” I find the least impressive, also because I’m not a huge fan of such a quasi-operatic singing which has dominated the whole piece. The remaining fragments of Act I are solid, sometimes more than solid pieces of dark ambient filled with miasmatic emanations and corrupted air.
Paranoia Inducta is responsible for Act II and what draws attention from the very beginning is that Anthony’s music is less bombastic and overwhelming, though equally suggestive. This is music composed using fewer means of expression, focused on deep atmospheric drones – if you’d make a comparison with the album’s theme, Corona Barathri’s act is like an epic vision of a dying continent, while Paranoia Inducta reminds of a drama of a single person or a family thrown into a center of bubonic apocalypse, without a hope for a better tomorrow. Under the veil of dark and dense textures there’s something poignant within these compositions, especially “Pestis Magna” has touched me somehow.
The conclusions with the current world situation are obvious, yet I try not to connect this music with the pandemic as it is a cheap trick for imagination. It is simply a decent dark ambient split, gloomy listening experience, like a good book or a movie about those dark times several centuries ago.