The term "gothic" is one of the less helpful in defining a band's sound, banded around to the same extent as "epic" and "extreme," usually by idiots like me. Generally speaking, bands labelled as gothic metal tend to share characteristics of a lighter sound, still led by rock instruments but in a less prominent, background manner and usually accompanied or even overpowered by keyboards and sweeping orchestration, while vocals range from operatic wails to death metal growls. Germany's Atargatis are fairly typical then, in that singer Stephanie Luzie performs most songs in a high singing voice with occasional bouts of regular singing and is accompanied briefly by male vocals in three songs, though without the contrived "beauty and the beast" system of male grunts versus female singing used by bands such as Theatre of Tragedy.
All of the instrumentation in this album is aimed at providing a suitable soundscape for Luzie's voice, meaning that while the synthesised orchestra, regular rock instruments and additional touches like violin in 'Through the Mists if Oblivion' are all flawlessly performed, they rarely stand out apart from a few generous guitar solos in songs like 'Selina.' Each track is around five minutes in length apart from the intro, outro and interlude '4giving,' and most use the slightly extended length to their advantage in arriving at a different sound by the end than the one they began with, displayed in the title song which marks a major shift from light operatic metal to a more typical singing performance in its second half. There are a few nicely odd touches to distinguish certain songs - Luzie chanting repeatedly over a church organ at the start of 'Circle of Life' being one, continued later in the song where her German accent interferes slightly with her ability to pronounce the title in the repeating chorus (bless) - and even the more standard fare is generally divided up so that slower songs are placed next to more energetic pieces.
This is a slickly produced album that brings out all the presence and subtlety of the backing orchestration as required by each song, and allows the rock instruments to remain audible even when essentially buried or momentarily unnecessary. The guitar has a certain crunch to it that's appealing, but metal fans shouldn't come here expecting an energised or upbeat performance in the style of Nightwish, while those expecting something more ethereal and ambient may be similarly disappointed. Atargatis is primarily another gothic metal band doing alright in a genre that isn't exactly over-saturated, but requires quite a bit from its performers that this album delivers thanks to Stephanie Luzie, but unfortunately fails elsewhere. Stick with Theatre of Tragedy for something more ambitious and moody.
1. Desert (Intro)
3. Selina (Widow of the Moon)
4. Thy Crystallic Ascension
5. Cradle of Fern
6. Through the Mists if Oblivion
8. My Solace
9. Circle of Life
10. Angels Crying
11. Eden (Outro)