[sic] Magazine

Athalia – Athalia

Athalia; = Girls name derived from ‘God’s exhaltation’, from the Hebrew or Latin Bible. Athalia was Queen Of Judah, daughter of Jezabel, etc etc .

Lofty stuff, whatever the source. I feel I should point out that this Athalia are not to be confused with Christian Rock band, Saving Athalia . Biblical proportions may apply but this Athalia don’t need saving at all.

What to expect then? Me, I was anticipating a crashing, crushing post-rock not a million miles away from God Is an Astronaut or Pelican . Then again this is Sun Sea Sky , the label that first brought Lights Out Asia to prominence, a label more associated with the emotive end of IDM. In truth, none of that quite applies.

Athalia are a power trio from Southern California with one foot in college rock and the other leaping heavenward. Many pieces begin in Death Cab territory (e.g. ‘The Great Tranquilizer’) with light, harmonic vocals and breezy melodies before cranking up to something heavier. I wouldn’t call these leanings post-rock for reasons that I’ll come to in a moment but there’s complexity here, and passion. Guitars are to the fore, reverberated and delayed but never to shoegazing extents. Bass is warm and comforting while the vocal rides the music with the assurance of a champion jockey.

This is rock, first and foremost. Rock instruments in a rock setting cannot be post-rock. And yet there is something in the structure that keeps that ‘post’ word nagging away in the back of the mind. The complexity I mentioned might push this towards progressive but at the end of the day these tracks are more ‘song’ than ‘composition’ based. In any case, I always kinda like it when you can’t easily pigeonhole a band. Makes for something more interesting. ‘The Art Of Gunfighting’ even brings Red House Painters to mind with its sparse acoustics and almost military drum rolls.

Whatever Athalia are doing they seem to be doing it right. This eponymous debut album is a fine listen from start to finish. Don’t think for a second that the volumes and crescendos hinted at are the product of any lack of subtlety. Far from it. This is an album that rewards repeated visits, and one that fans of PAIK or Appleseed Cast might be very pleased to add this to their collection.