Most albums have their highlights, and “Introspection” is no exception. Yet it’s harder to pull off an album that also has little by way of “filler” tracks, and for that, the alternative rock band, Ataraxis should be commended here. The recording is made up of 7 tracks – 2 vocal and 5 instrumental tunes. Every song hits the band’s sweet spot – sometimes melodic airy, sometimes bone-crushing and heavy. Steven on lead vocals and guitars drives the embellishing dynamics of the band, while David on the bass makes sure the thunderous rumble from the rhythmic underbelly keeps the momentum going. If my understanding is correct, then drumming duties on this album is handled by Julian. And if that sounds like an unusual statement it’s not, considering the many line-up changes, Ataraxis have been through before finalizing the members. The one constant figure throughout it all, has been Steven.
The opening songs “4th Dimension” and “Sixteen” both feature vocals, so they come out of the gate exactly as you expect gritty ass kicking rock songs to do. The guitars grind and squeal, the rhythms chug and push forward, while Stephen ramble and roars his narratives over the raw back-to-basics soundscapes. The fun starts when the instrumentals kick in. “Prom Night Sucker” shows off David’s rumbling basslines which are in constant mutation. Stephen never strays far behind his riffs sounding powerful and visceral
Both Ataraxis’ chunky textures and melodic sections, are expertly balanced and made bold, by arresting, vital music. Even though they don’t lean towards weird instrumental stuff like some of their peers, they have the sense to write fairly complex, and memorable motifs.
“Smothering the Sorrow” is one of those memorable songs. The band maintain a straight arrangement filled with jangly guitars that carefully meander through the track, fixing the mellifluous mood and atmosphere.
“Forgotten” presents another showcase for David’s basslines. What’s especially cool is that they run a gauntlet of cool sounds and techniques; they lurk, they strike, they crunch and wallow, alternatively mercilessly swift and lugubrious.
“Retrospect” is slower, yet still dynamic, where the drums and bass hold down a somber mood, while Steven is left to noodle and navigate the sound canvas. It’s a grinding song that rewards patience with numerous riffs and solos scattered amongst the chugs. This is also the longest song on the recording, clocking in at just over 4 minutes.
Which of course is a major surprise when it comes to instrumental music. This is a genre that usually adores lengthy meandering passages that unfold and unpack themselves for ages. Not so here, as Ataraxis keep things fairly tight and clean.
The closing song, “Snapshot” is another melodic delight, with Steven’s shimmering six-string filling the track with plenty of glitter and shine. The song succeeds in evoking a response from the listener as all good art should do.
So to cut a long story short, Ataraxis jump out of the gate on the opening tracks of “Introspection”, with intense overdriven fury, clubbing you into submission. From there on they take you through a journey of varied timbres and tones, seemingly breathing new life back into you, which they admirably achieve with the gorgeous closing track.
Ataraxis are an unusual band, difficult to fix into any box, as they move from grungy rock to alternative rock, and then onto post rock influences. Only time will tell where these young creatives are heading, and what their final destination will be.