Atarka – Sleeping Giant

The rumour is that UK metallers Atarka are a band to keep a close ear upon with no better opportunity coming than through their just released debut album. The suggestion coming our way was that the band was very much like the protagonist of their full-length’s title, a mighty beast ready to stir and take on the British metal scene and after devouring the Sleeping Giant we can only agree that the potential and imagination offered has all the ingredients to break major attention.

Hailing out of Birmingham, Atarka was founded by guitarist Daniel McCarthy, bass player Adam Bayliss, and vocalist Jamie Smith. 2018 saw its current line-up completed with the addition of guitarist Alex Dutton and drummer Phil Sheldon and continuing to build on the local success quickly found with their dramatic and fertile fusion of groove and blackened death metal. As their first album proves, there is plenty more at work around that creative seeding and within Sleeping Giant it makes for a mix which gives ears, neck muscles, and enjoyment a strong workout.

Embracing themes of “history, mental illness, addiction and other aspects of the human experience” while sonically illustrating a “bleak and desperate view of history”, Sleeping Giant leads ears in with its title track. A melodic shimmer of guitar initially coaxes the imagination, its worldly breath rich intimation even as the track’s climates hints at the darkening outlook to come. It is a brief and seriously magnetic evocation quickly devoured by the might of The Bastard. Immediately appetite fuelling grooves wind their lures around ears, the guitars of McCarthy and Dutton enslaving sure attention for the throat abrasing roars of Smith to unleash their intent upon. There is a controlled urgency to the rhythms and attack of the song but no escaping the predatory intent of both or the sonic enterprise escaping guitars and imagination.

It is a superb full start to the release which Tollund Man cements with its similarly considered but imposing stride. Bayliss and Sheldon harry and assault with skilled tempestuousness echoed in riffs and grooves let alone Smith’s caustic delivery but magnetically tempered by the subsequent melodic wiring woven by the guitars. At times the song relaxes its animosity to further beguile but it only seems to invigorate its returning uncompromising trespass as another compelling moment is unleashed.

Golden Snake follows and again does not hold back in springing delicious grooves upon the listener to chain attention before burrowing further under the skin with sonic nagging and rhythmic dexterity. For the first time Smith reveals his impressive clean tones, a switch which only accentuates the prowess of he and the track’s mercurial individuality before Miasma equally harasses and captivates with its blackened heart and grooved instincts. Again the blend of vocal contrasts accentuates the strengths and enterprise of a song which maybe did not quite grip us as tightly as those before it but undoubtedly added to the growth pleasure inspired by Sleeping Giant.

A hint loaded melodic calm before the storm opening to The Tempest ensured ears were again firmly held and in keen anticipation of the deluge to come, one retaining its sonic craft and imagination even as voracious grooves spark and provoke a toxic turbulence. The tempestuous nature of the song is only further escalated by the twists of relative calm and melodic fire which breaks the sonic corruption, the track more compelling by the second even if still being eclipsed by the uncompromising verging on feral presence of the outstanding 731. Even so, it too is wrapped in spirals of venomous and invigorating grooves which seem to inflame rather than temper the dark intent led by Smith’s rabid tones and the ravening incursion of rhythms.

The controlled shuffle of next up Nebula is soon clouded by the just as inviting groan of Bayliss’ bass, the evolving melodic scene courted by dark atmospheric hues and shadows before the track expands into a dense and enveloping realm as melodically radiant and captivating as it is corrosively invasive while the following Shadow of the King remains in that kind of mordant climate as it weaves a portrait of majestic malevolence and ravenous violation with a manipulative imagination and surprise giving craft. Unpredictable and ferocious, the song is maybe the most unique and riveting moment within the release, certainly another major moment greedily devoured.

The album ends with Delacroix, an epic conflict of light and dark where melody and sonic black heartedness tantalised and seized the senses across one dramatic body. It is a powerful close to a release becoming more fascinating and compelling with every freshly revealing listen. It is easy to suggest that Atarka is indeed a Sleeping Giant with all the elements available to see them rise to lofty heights, their debut an impressive stirring in the start of that journey.

Sleeping Giant is available now on all music platforms and streaming services.

Pete RingMaster 13/04/2020

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

The Atarka Interview

Hi and thank you for sparing time to chat with us.

AB: Thanks for reaching out to us, looking forward to getting into this.

Could you first introduce the band and tell us how it came to be?

I’m Adam Bayliss and I play bass, and I’m with Dan McCarthy who plays guitar.

AB: Atarka came from a desperation to write our own music. I think that we both found that in our last band the writing process wasn’t as equal or open to everyone’s ideas. So we started writing our own music on our own for Atarka.

How would you define not only your sound but the creative character of the band?

AB: Our sound is just a culmination of all of the things that we love in music. Melody, groove, heaviness. We like to tell stories in our music, some fictional and some are allegories from life lessons we’ve learned.

You have already touched on it  but how have those previous musical experiences for band members been embraced in or had an influence on what you do now?

AB: Between the 5 of us, we’ve all had previous musical experiences through education, bands and work. One thing I embraced for Atarka was the idea of “you get what you put in”. When you’re in bands at a younger age, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everything will just fall into place as long as the music is good. But that’s just not true. You need to work hard and put the effort in, you need to look at every band that surrounds you and put in 100% more effort than they are. Not in a competitive way, but more as a means of raising your own standards.

Is there a particular process to the band’s songwriting?

AB: Well I think we had quite an unconventional process to writing our first album due to line up changes. Originally it was myself and Dan writing songs in his flat, using Logic as an aural notepad for ideas. We only had one goal: to write, record and release an album. We had about 15-18 ideas and fleshed them out into full songs. We also took on some lyric writing for a couple of our early tracks until Jamie (Vocals) became more involved. He took our ideas and edited them where he saw fit. When Alex (guitar) and Phil (Drums) joined, we showed them our tracks and they added new depth to the songs that we loved. So me and Dan came up with the basis, and the other guys added their personal stamps on each song we have.

Would you tell us about your latest release?

AB: ‘Sleeping Giant’ is our debut album and it’s available from March 27th. I feel there’s something for every kind of metal fan on this album. There’s melody, catchy riffs and vocal melodies, heavy breakdowns you can move your head to, and tracks to absolutely destroy someone in the pit.

What are the major inspirations to its heart and themes?

AB: I’ve been a huge fan of melodic death metal for about 15 years now, specifically the Gothenburg scene with bands like In Flames, At The Gates, Soilwork etc. But also a major influence for myself is Mastodon, the way they structure songs and use their riffs to explore the stories they tell is something I’ve always loved since I first heard ‘Crack the Skye’.

DM: The themes of ‘Sleeping Giant’ are based around different stories from our own lives and a few allegorical tales. Mental health, addiction and even history. We have one track called ‘Tollund Man’ – based around these perfectly preserved bodies found in a peat bog in Denmark. So it’s a real mixed bag if you don’t look deep into the lyrics. But they all come from desperate situations.

I am always intrigued as to how artists choose track order on albums and EP’s and whether in hindsight they would change that. What has been the deciding factor for you or do songs or the main do that organically?

AB: I know that when it came to track order for the album, Jamie (vocals) had an idea straight off the bat. So we just put that into a playlist, went away and listened to it. I don’t think there were too many changes. It’s just about what feels and sounds right for the album. But you also need to keep the audience in mind. You need to keep them captivated.

What do you find the most enjoyable part of being in a band and similarly the most cathartic?

AB: I really enjoy the song writing process, creating new music and getting excited to hear the final product. It’s a rewarding process, from inception all the way to hearing a song you created, fully mixed and mastered.

Also, nothing quite beats playing a decent show. Feeling the music alongside the audience and your band mates, when the crowd are begging for one more song from you. I don’t think anything can match that.

For anyone contemplating checking you out live give some teasers as to what they can expect.

AB: Well, Jamie is a natural born frontman; crowd interaction just comes naturally to the guy. I mean, all the guys in the band can put on a great show. This is something I’ve not experienced before, there’s always been at least one guy that freezes up and can’t come out of his shell. We just want to put on a great show and party with the people that come out to see us.

What has been your most thrilling moment on stage to date?

AB: For me it has to be when we played KK’s Steel Mill in Wolverhampton. It’s a great new venue and we got the chance to play the big stage. The crowd were phenomenal, the other bands on that night played amazing sets. It was just one of those perfect shows. And it was also surreal to see KK Downing in the audience.

Do you have live dates coming up?

DM: Nothing we can reveal just yet, but keep an ear to the ground.

What else can we expect in the near future?

DM: We’ve got three upcoming singles, accompanied by music videos in support of the upcoming album, and some stuff that we can’t quite reveal yet.

What are the major inspirations to you sound wise and as a musician?

AB: Well, other than the bands I mentioned earlier, I’d have to list bands such as Behemoth, Enslaved, Alcest, Alter Bridge, Baroness, and Anaal Nathrakh. If it’s heavy or melodic – it’s probably going to influence me one way or another.

And finally what song or release would you say was the spark to your passion for music?

AB: I was raised on music from the 60s and 70s. So one of the first artists that really stuck with me was T. Rex. Marc Bolan was such an enigmatic character and quite a surreal song writer at times; something just clicked with me and inspired me to want to make music.

DM: I was raised on Zeppelin, particularly LZ IV. That was the initial catalyst in getting me into music.

Many thanks once again; anything else you would like to add?

Just to say thanks again for the chat, it was a lot of fun answering these questions, and to look out for ‘Sleeping Giant’ – available for purchase and streaming on March 27th.


Check Atarka out further @…

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 24/02/2020

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright