ATF is a ritual music one-man group with nine years of history. When I reviewed the band's previous album I mentioned that the album's theme might've been too personal for the artist, thus making the album a bit difficult for the listener to grasp. This album is themed around one of the artist's great influences H. P. Lovecraft, so even if the theme is very personal again, this time the listener can more precisely know what the artist is trying to create and express.
Surprising to me, this album relies a lot more on individual sounds than on some more general and wider ambience, and it has a greatly organic soundscape for the most part. The songs vary from some sparse ritualistic chimes and especially their echoing used as the main element, to some parts backed with simple synth-like but harsher, even slightly noisy ambience and thin droning, to even more intriquing parts such as even drone-like sounds from cutting and otherwise operating on a piece of raw flesh. There's even some oriental flute creating a really deep atmosphere in the third track, which really surprised me. The more usual elements, such as the wide and ritualistic percussion-section, are also present. The album doesn't really get "music-like" at any point: it's an occult ritual soundscape built from sparsely used and small elements, that together turn into something unique and overwhelming. This album really shows the artist's skill in his craft; he isn't afraid of silence and even really slow progression, he moreso uses it for his advantage.
The album plays a lot on dynamics. It has to be played very loud on definition, as some parts (such as a single crude chime hit and it's echo) can be very highlighted whereas there are two whole tracks with a very low volume level when compared to the others - for example, the second track sounds really minimal and distant after the very loud and active ending of it's predecessor. It bothered me at first, but when I got to know the album better I noticed that it's all for the album's own good; it keeps the listener at full attention at all times, and it quides the listener's focus to either a whole soundscape or just some smaller, shorter and/or more fragile sounds that are not so easy to spot. It gives the album a really powerful and primitive pulse that pushes the whole forward throughout it's lenght.
The album has quite interesting cover arts. It looks just like a green and dull mush at first, but on further examination it seems to work a bit like a primitive hologram. It's surprisingly hypnotic to look at, and a rather original choice. The inner covers are dark (blood) red and not nearly as pleasing, but they're more for just containing the info anyway. It could've been done better, less crude and in a more holistic manner, but it's good as-is. A wider visual side would've been nice though, so that there would've been something to really look at while listening the album to deepen the experience.
On the first listen, I thought that the album didn't do justice to it's theme. Later on I noticed that I had been very wrong, as the soundscape isn't as minimal as it is greatly organic, well built and put together, mystical, hypnotic, and even occult - and the playing on dynamics and variation between colder and warmer sounds makes it even more fascinating. It's a really deep listening experience, and one that really makes the listener aware to hear all that's going on. The album isn't afraid to challenge it's listener either.
Aside of the third track's oriental flute-based approach letting the listener explore it just a bit too easily, there aren't too many flaws on the album - and the aforementioned track has very interesting percussions that borderline between calmness and chaos, which make the track more than worthwile. The album really does compliment it's theme.