The Path Untravelled – thoughts, one year on

A year ago today, Arx Atrata’s 3rd album was released. What have I learned in that time?

The Path Untravelled - CD digipak, open

On the promotional side, I pushed this album more than previous ones, but results have been mixed. When you push up into the bigger leagues people are less afraid to give negative reviews, as you’d expect and hope. But you quickly see from the contradictions across reviews that you don’t really get a better quality of criticism at this level, just a better quality of writing. It’s subjectivity dressed up as objectivity. The same release can get 10/10 from one source and 4/10 somewhere else.

But artists don’t solicit reviews for the purpose of gathering constructive feedback. We wouldn’t change what we write based on a journalist’s opinion anyway. We want the reviews to reach potential new listeners and tell them about us. So, did that work? Well… not especially. The previous album Spiritus In Terra broke even after 3 months, but this one took until last week to claw back its costs. Partly this is just because people buy fewer CDs and downloads. But additionally, streaming numbers are down for Arx Atrata, primarily because success or failure in the narrower subgenres all depends on whether an anonymous editor at Spotify chooses to add you to their official playlists or not. This time around they did not.

Independent bands trying to reach new fans these days are generally given 2 pieces of advice: first, to be constantly posting on social media in the hope that you build and keep a big enough audience, and second, to buy targeted ads on social media to reach new people. Essentially, the bands with lots of time and no money are doing free promotional work for Facebook and Instagram so that the bands with lots of money and no time get enough views on their ads. I won’t play that game – nobody wins except a handful of lucky bands at the top of the pyramid and the social networks themselves.

So what’s next for Arx Atrata? I had hoped to find live musicians and play gigs this year, but that would have hinged on both a more successful release and also the absence of a global pandemic. Maybe next time? For now, it’s back to songwriting, with something to share in the near future. As ever, watch this space.

Reviews in 2020

Although The Path Untravelled was released almost a year ago, new reviews keep coming in.

Earlier in the year, House Of Prog remarked in their review that The Path Untravelled is “majestic, all encompassing, and a damn fine listen”.

More recently, VM-Underground had some positive words to share in their review, saying The Path Untravelled was “a dark, sombre album with lots of twists and turns and a plethora of melodic interludes and tangents to keep any atmospheric Black Metal fan happy”.

Last but not least, huge gratitude goes to Italy’s Metal Skunk who wrote an in-depth article covering all three albums to date. The article is, naturally, all in Italian, but via the translating power of Deepl it was possible to see that they consider Oblivion, Spiritus in Terra, and The Path Untravelled to be “three records of the highest level” and that “Arx Atrata stands at the highest levels of expressivity”.

As always, many thanks to anyone who has taken the time to listen to the music and to write up their thoughts.

UK black metal streaming playlists

There’s an ever-growing scene of black metal here in the UK, and it’s easy to miss out on some gems, especially from the underground of lesser-known acts. Here therefore is a streaming playlist for your consideration – with many familiar names but hopefully many new ones as well.

Here’s one for Deezer users, with Spotify below.

…and Spotify:

Arx Silvestris – synth covers of Arx Atrata songs

Greetings all – this is just a short word to inform you all that en EP of three synth versions of Arx Atrata songs have been released under the banner of Arx Silvestris. Fans of dark ambient, dungeon synth, video game music, or even classic TV soundtracks may be interested.

You can listen to them at Bandcamp, Spotify, Deezer, and most other services.

On the eve of release – more reviews

Critical opinion on The Path Untravelled has been universally positive so far. Following on from the previous reviews, we have a few more for you.

Occult Black Metal Zine : “Arx  Atrata  are  a  very  great  sounding  atmospheric  black  metal  solo  project”

The Void Journal: “The Path Untravelled ranks proudly on the shelf with my favourite music titles to date”

Independent Music Showcase (via Facebook): “So much better than what some of the mainstream bands produce”

RTMB Magazine (in Spanish): “An enjoyable journey from beginning to end” (translated)

Headshot Music: “The riches of this project apparently lay in details. There are so many that I cannot grasp the entirety without this review going for the length of an essay”

Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging Life : “There is no faulting a single moment of this album”

Medienkonverter (in German): “Thumbs up and a big ‘buy’ recommendation for fans of this subgenre” (translated)

La Guilde du Metal (in French): “The Path Untravelled is a success” (translated)

Rock Out Stand Out: ” If you’ve ever heard, or even been aware of Winterfylleth, Agalloch, or even GrisIl était une forêt… you need to listen to this album”

Preorders for The Path Untravelled now open

Glad to announce that pre-orders for The Path Untravelled are now open. As is now tradition, the album comes as a hand-numbered digipak, and is also available as part of two limited edition sets including a t-shirt and badge.

Choose your path: the path of Brethren:

Or the path of Betrayer:

Visit our Bandcamp page below to place orders, due to be shipped October 11th. Thanks for your support.

https://arxatrata.bandcamp.com/album/the-path-untravelled

The Path Untravelled – First Reviews

Promo copies of the album have been with journalists for a few days, and the reviews are starting to come in.

First up were Sonic Abuse, who said “The Path Untravelled is a stunningly recorded body of work [..] Bold, beautiful and haunting, The Path Untravelled is a work of art and highly recommended.” They awarded it 9.5 out of 10, and you can read the whole review at the following link: http://www.sonicabuse.com/2019/08/arx-atrata-the-path-untravelled-album-review/

Next we have Metal Temple, who say The Path Untravelled is “an excellent album” that is “sad, and depressing, but also full of vigor and excitement”, and “an undeniable winner”, awarding it 9 out of 10. Again, you can read the entire review on their site here: http://www.metal-temple.com/site/catalogues/entry/reviews/cd_3/a_2/arx-atrata-the-path.htm

More reviews will be posted as they come in, but until then watch this space for more news and keep an eye on our Bandcamp page for pre-order news.

The Path Untravelled

The third album from Arx Atrata is entitled ‘The Path Untravelled’. Due out on October 11th, this record continues the sonic and thematic journey started by Oblivion and followed by Spiritus In Terra but visits new destinations.

More news on release formats and pre-orders will follow shortly, but for now, here’s ‘An Undying Verse’, a vision of the grey area between fact and fiction, wakefulness and slumber, life and death.

Five years since Oblivion was released

5 years ago today saw the release of the first Arx Atrata album ‘Oblivion’ on 100 limited edition digipaks and digital stores. The intent was to make an album that was mixing some of the more recent developments in UK black metal with aspects of the more synth-based atmospheric black metal acts from Europe, with some blackened doom aspects thrown in for good measure. Inspiration came from a range of bands: Fen, Winterfylleth, Wodensthrone, Lustre, Paysage D’Hiver, Darkspace, Forest Stream, Agalloch, and more. Some of these influences are more audible than others! But regardless, the response to this release far exceeded all expectations and ensured new material would be forthcoming, in the form of 2017’s Spiritus In Terra and the 3rd album coming next year – news of which will be coming very soon. Thanks to all for your support.