AtomA is a Stockholm, Sweden based heavy metal/electronic band that has arisen out of the flames of the band Slumber. The cover art for Skylight captures the phoenix rising vision well. The band is led by vocalist and synthesizer extraordinaire, Ehsan Kalantarpour. Providing the rest of the awesome power for this visionary soundscape are Markus Hill, on drums; Siavosh Bigonah, on bass and electric guitar; and Christian Älvestam, on rhythm guitars and backing vocals. "AtomA is a home for refugee souls of a planet in decay".
First, there is only one way to experience this album in all its intensity…with headphones. Close your eyes and imagine you are at the movies:
They start off with a slow Red Rider, Light in the Tunnel like opening with drums, then blast into full gate with an impressive Blade Runner synth symphonic soundtrack. That is my best description of the unbelievably incredible feeling that you get from the tsunami wave of sound provided on the opener AtomA. The synths are simply the best I've heard not just this year, but in maybe half a decade at least. But those massive bass or native drums will rock your world and bring rhythm to your ears. The fast paced rhythm has a wild natural feel to it that will keep your heart pacing to stay up with the speed and intensity. Then that wall of electric guitars hits like a wave breaking across the synths. When you're making the band's namesake, take your time and get it right. They did not save the best for last. They put it up front…where it belonged. Mind blown…but wait…there is plenty more power left…the journey's just begun.
Not to be outdone, the synth and pounding beat of the journey continues in full capacity on the album's title track Skylight; only this time with Kalantarpour's lead vocals and Älvestam's growling backing voice. The symphonic synth and keyboard magic reaches tsunami proportions with Kalantarpour having to shout to stay above the wave of sound. His vocals fluctuate between Joe Strummer's of the Clash at their straight forward rockiest and the Verve's Richard Ashcroft, when he's singing the dreamscape howling vocals. The drums, bass, and electric guitars stream and roar all over the track before it settles down to a rhythm, as waves of sound pulse in and around the soundscape. They do not want to leave this fast awesome synth rhythm, with guitars and drums blazing…and who can blame 'em. It is fantastic!
Hole in the Sky sets in motion a steady beat and rhythm for the duration of the album. They couldn't possibly keep up all that power indefinitely…or could they? This track has all of the magic of the past keyboard extravaganzas with more of the great vocals Kalantarpour can deliver. The crushing drums and slicing guitars…oh yeh…they are still there, and with even more highlights, as the waves of synths subside long enough to take in their majesty.
Highway is a soft, keyboard rhythm with accompanying synths and solid bass in comparison to the tsunami waves that have just passed. Ida Sundqvist adds her beautiful voice to this peace to provide even more dynamics to the sound. Kalantarpour is back with his best and clearest vocals yet. The solid guitar truly takes on Pink Floyd's Gilmour proportions now that you can hear the intricate detail being produced. But another unfathomable tsunami wall/wave of synth sound is back to overwhelm you again.
Bermuda Riveira breathes soft, slow synth as electronic sound effects fill the air. Imagine an exotic sun drenched beach, a teaming dune filled mars landscape, or just floating through the heavens. The guitars are the star this time, with the keys supporting perfectly. There is nothing missing on this album and we're only half way through. The violin weaves intricate webs of sound as you feel that you are drifting out into celestial fields of time.
Resonance is one of the few album oriented rock tracks on the album. It is a classic Red Rider/Rush sounding track or something from that era. It's the amazing synth and keyboards that separate this track from those past heroes. The guitar work is again stellar and might remind you of some of Arjen Lucassen's trips with Ayreon. Kalantarpour's vocals are very good, but with the intense music the band is providing, vocals might only distract.
Solaris is filled with very cool spacey synths and the drifting sound effects of radio waves picked up out in space. Then the keys take over completely until Sundqvist's beautiful siren vocals surround the soundscape. Just what you wanted to bump into when lost in space. Those Vangelis like keys sooth so well.
Rainmen has a real Chameleons UK feel to the opening. It's as if Kalantarpour shared the same fascination with the album, The Script of the Bridge. That hollow lead guitar and then swarms of billowing guitars, bass and drums build rhythm and power. Like a generator being reignited. Thanks for taking me back. Then just as you're soaking in the nostalgia, no pun intended, he switches on that Wurlitzer like synth kaleidoscope of sound, with Sundqvist supporting him through the heavenly chorus.
Saturn and I is full of sound effects at the start. The buzzing is cool, as is the tick tock and simulated steel sounding rain. The guitar pathways that are being set are gorgeous and full of groove. The synth and keyboard effects in the background are….well…amazing. More of that melancholy Chameleons UK guitar sound set to cool splattering guitar and hollow surrounding synths. Chimes take you out…
…and on to the finale, Cloud Nine. One last celestial trek along the stellar heights of amazing electric guitar, surrounded by spacey synths and Sundqvist's siren voice. Bet that's just the way you wanted them to take you out, right? Her voice is amazing. Would be great to hear her full vocal prowess one day. Maybe the next album. Oh…yeh…I'm sure there will be another…once enough people get to hear this one!
3. Hole in the Sky
5. Bermuda Riveira
9. Saturn and I
10. Cloud Nine
Added: March 25th 2012
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
Related Link: AtomA.com
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Posted by Scott Ward, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-03-25 10:38:32
There are some bands that can make you stop and listen no matter what the situation is. AtomA is in that league. They are a band that has added a new and fresh twist to the techno/progressive scene with a heady blend of stellar musical ability and the kind of songwriting that will carry you away into the sci-fi type spacescape that they have created. Fans of Alan Parsons are going to just eat this one up as their use of keyboards are a major part of the music but they also bring some slashing guitar work to the party too. When you then add the soft, enchanting vocals of Ehsan Kalantarpour you get a dreamy sort of work that envelops body and soul with a truly bewitching musical concoction that has just a couple of bumps along the road.
With the start of the album and the song "Atoma" you get a real Pink Floyd feel as I thought I might have been listening to a modified version of "Time" with it's terrific percussion work. This will not be the first time that you relate this band to some of the masters of the genre but you get a sense that they are revering them instead of copying. From there they take you to a much harsher place with "Skylight" as the mixture of growling and clean vocals are set against a very dramatic musical backdrop. "Hole In The Sky" is a pulsating blast of electric guitar against a keyboard background that moves you at warp speed into their travels amongst the stars. It is obvious that the band AtomA does not rest on it's laurels as they give you a plethora of musical styles that are as diversified as any group.
My favorite cut from the disc is the marvelous "Bermuda Riveira". Here they kick it into interstellar overdrive with another work that pays homage to the legendary work of Gilmour/Waters. One of the moodiest pieces on here, it is a song that builds to a dramatic climax after pulling on you gently for the first half. This is terrific songwriting and a stellar performance.
The band does have a couple missteps along the way. "Rainmen" reminds me too much of the A-ha song "Take on Me" and that whole synth/pop type of drivel. The song "Saturn And I" could have been from the Pink Floyd Meddle album but comes no where near the quality of spacy rock that Floyd gave us back then.
Other than the couple of lesser tracks that I mentioned this is a real exciting disc. It shows more promise than anything I have heard in awhile. I certainly will look forward to their next release.
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