"The Golden Bough" is Atlantean Kodex's debut full-length album. Combining standard heavy metal with a strong vein of doom-metal, the band create a melancholic, crushing, yet beautiful soundscape for the listener to explore for the whole sixty-five minutes of it's duration.
Sound-wise, Atlantean Kodex are somewhat reminiscent of the band Solstice - with mournful, beautiful, clean vocals, crushing, deep riffs, and an atmosphere which is shared by both bands undeniably, but is difficult to explain. However, Atlantean Kodex have a stronger traditional metal element to their sound, and are more prone to faster sections and other features connoting a traditional approach. That said, the doom elements are definitely there, and overtly so. Slow, crushing riffs rule most of the songs, with a tone evocative of a sheer epicness with few equals. The albums carries a haunting sound all the way through, and, although most doom bands do this in some way, this band manage to do so in their own unique style, treading a path unlike many of the quintessential atmospheric-doom bands of today. One of the things I especially took notice of was the extensive use of chugging riffs in many songs, such as "Fountain of Nepenthe" as opposed to a more expected "single, sustained chords" approach. This seems to give the music a great deal of vigour, while not draining the slow, peaceful nature of doom metal, suggesting that the blend of styles is close to optimal.
The whole album is an excellent musical landscape to get lost in, as the music has so much going on in it, especially considering the fact that the songs are of a typically doom length, juxtaposed with them being a little faster than the average doom metal, meaning that the songs have many twists and turns. To an extent, this also makes that band more difficult to initially absorb, with many of the songs taking a good few listens to enjoy. I'd certainly say that this is an album for the determined, as opposed to the casual listener. Testament to that is the fact that I first listened to the music about six months ago, and have only just gotten into it properly now. Quite a few distraction free car and bus journeys are needed to focus enough on the music enough to take it in completely, but when the songs have been committed to memory through this, it is infinitely worth while, as while the production isn't "perfect" (I think it's quite near, personally), and some of the arrangement is a little clumsy, with riffs moving into other sections with little in the way of transition, these flaws can be utterly disregarded in light of the album when listened to in the right conditions.
Atlantean Kodex seem to have made waves with their debut, and I expect great things from them in the future. If the band produce an album equal to this again, it will be excellent, but with luck, what they make next will iron out the tiny flaws presented in this, and create an utter classic, which this album itself comes close to being.
I give "The Golden Bough" 8/10
Atlantean Kodex Official site
Atlantean Kodex on Metal Archives