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Ataraxie : Project X

The old demo material of Ataraxie really profits from the modern, powerful production of that re-release.

Three years after the release of their last album, the French Death-Doomsters Ataraxie celebrate their tenth anniversary with this new double CD, Project X. Its content is not quite as mysterious as the title might suggest: The first CD is essentially a re-recording of the band’s demo The Other Path (2003), except for the last track “From Agony to Eternity” which was hitherto unreleased. Another exclusive studio track, “A Jamais”, opens the second CD before the listener is presented with some live recordings. Each of the CDs has an impressive playing time of about 75 minutes. Thus, this is really a “value for money” release, especially for long-standing fans. However, if you are not familiar with the band yet, it would be wiser to start with their regular albums.

The old demo material really profits from the modern, powerful production. I have read somewhere that the songs have been re-arranged too, but since I have only heard a few excerpts of the demo a while back, I cannot judge in how far this is actually true. But either way, the material works just fine here and clearly shows that Ataraxie have had a lot of songwriting potential right from the beginning. There are some weaker moments too and the compositions are not as elaborately arranged as on the masterpiece Slow Transcending Agony, but a palpable love for the genre and loads of great riffs make up for that. “The Other Path”, “The Isle of the Dead” and “Unholy Prayer” (the latter featuring clean guest vocals by the Fatum Elisum singer) are the highlights. It should be noted, however, that the style of the demo is slightly different from what the band is known for today – there is much more blasting and midtempo riffing, and even some Black Metal is heard on occasion. But you will still get your share of crushing Death Doom and mournful melody lines.

The two exclusive tracks are a welcome addition and make Project X all the more worthwhile. “A Jamais” in particular is an excellent track, and personally I find it far more consistent and interesting than anything featured on Anhédonie. Everyone who has ever attended an Ataraxie gig knows that they are a superb and very intense live band. After subtracting the fourteen minutes of “A Jamais” on the second CD, we are still left with a live album of about sixty minutes, and the featured tracks capture the live feeling quite well, owing to the solid recording quality. All instruments have the necessary punch and clearness while the live rawness is equally present. Both their albums are represented with two songs each, which is a very good solution, and additionally we get a cover of the Bethlehem classic “Aphel – Die schwarze Schlange” which the Frenchmen had already recorded for the “Bethlehems Bastarde” split EP with Imindain (2009). Of course, if you are one of those who do not see any sense in live albums altogether, this CD will not change your mind, but you will still be left with 90 minutes worth of good studio material.

To reiterate my initial statement, Project X is an essential purchase for anyone who enjoys the band’s style, while it is of little interest for “beginners”.

Reviewer's rating: 7.5/10


Tracklist :
CD 1
1. The Other Path
2. My Last Breath
3. Behind the Mask
4. Eternal Sufferings
5. The Isle of the Dead
6. Unholy Prayer
7. Alone in My Coffin
8. From Agony to Eternity

CD 2
1. A Jamais
2. L’Ataraxie (live)
3. Walking Through the Land of Falsity (live)
4. Anhédonie (live)
5. Aphel – Die schwarze Schlange (live)
6. Another Day of Despondency (live)

Duration : Approx. 150 minutes

Visit the Ataraxie bandpage.

Reviewed on 2012-01-31 by Dominik Sonders
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