Atala- The Bearer of Light
The Bearer of Light, the fourth album by California desert dwellers Atala is a powerfully raw, gritty, and intense sonic assault. This 7 song album is a primal voyage that leaves the listener feeling covered in the gritty dirt of the desert and the expelling of the lungs full of dank smoke.
Bearer of Light is the band's first effort to be produced by Kyle Stratton, Atala’s founder, guitarist, lyricist, and vocalist. These psychedelic desert doom rockers have previously released albums by esteemed producers Scott Reeder of Kyuss and Unida and producer of Sunn O))), Karma to Burn, and Sixty Watt Shaman and Billy Anderson (Sleep, Pallbearer, Om, and Orange Goblin). Stratton’s exposure to the production process under them has clearly paid off. Bearer of Light was recorded at Gatos Train, Joshua Tree and released by Salt of the Earth records
Stratton, along with Dave Horn on bass and Jeff Tedtaotao deliver a heavy, stripped down, and sludgy desert rock burner that will most certainly please the ears of fans of the Doom, Desert, Stoner, Sludge, and Psych rock genres. If these songs were a series of paintings the color pallet and style would surely remind one of Kyuss, Sleep, The Melvins, Crowbar, and of course the original masters Black Sabbath.
The opening track Desolate Lands takes the listener on a sonic voyage through the barren desert as they extol their deep connection to the landscape and its inhabitants. It is raw, aggressive, and sludgy as a tar pit. The drums thunder like a desert storm and the bass feels as dense as the collapsed core of a neutron star. Stratton’s fuzzy riffs and earthy vocals paint a dirty, bleak trek through a treeless, waterless, and harsh wasteland.
Won’t Subside, the second track of the album is an angst filled elegy that was written based on the experiences of a friend suffering the effects of PTSD and his subsequent suicide. This is a solemn doom filled dirge with a glacial bottom, droning riffs, hypnotic solos and angry, mournful vocals. We feel the pain in Stratton’s voice as he mourns the loss and honors his friend.
Sun Worship opens, as do several other tracks with a spoken sample, on this it’s George Carlin’s comedic riffing on worshipping the sun. It’s got thick, chunky, distorted riffs paired with abysmally low bass lines, and hard bashing drums. The listener can almost feel the low desert heat given off by that burning ball of gas high in the sky.
Other standouts on the album include Venomous Lure with its Iommic riffage, sludgy, dense bass lines, hard driving drums, and resin coated vocals. Upon the Alter is thick, guttural, and low as Death Valley with a dense sludginess reminiscent of Eyehategod and Crowbar.
The closing track Dark Skies opens with gorgeous, acoustic strumming bemoaning the darkness of being trapped and unable to escape one's own mind and builds to a dark lamentation to depression
This album is right in the wheelhouse of fans of the desert, stoner, sludge, and doom. You’ll be left coughing up the gritty desert dust, the sweet smoke of the burning leaf, and wanting to hear more of these desert rockers.