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Atom Works: The Life Of Spice

Centuries ago at the behest of an unknown visionary, a secretive group joined together to investigate tales of incredible people. Known to each other as Atom Works, they passed the task of discovering, observing, comprehending and copying their subjects to each new descendant generation, never once risking outside exposure. That was until the prophecy of their founder began to materialise. The world’s warmongering elite had discovered the treasure trove of powerful human abilities that once lay concealed under a blanket of mediocrity. Shockingly, military statesmen were already at work on massive research and training programmes. Atom Works finally broke its silence and announced itself to the planet through untraceable pirate transmissions. After an initially cold response a select team of five members were unmasked to better inform and reassure civilians that their changing world will have a band of extraordinarily powerful defenders. By first hearing tales of these unimaginable people, you will start to see their humanity and that there’s nothing to fear when they’re on your side. There’s so much you need to know. We’ll start in 1933, a year of great turmoil for the family of Spice, a man whom we seem to have followed forever. The very next year however, would prove even more eventful…

…At least so goes the blurb on the Atom Works website by way of explanation of how this band came into being. Grand stuff indeed, but then so is their conceptual debut, The Life Of Spice and having allowed the band to introduce themselves, so I’ll also let them to go into greater detail on their first release…

…The Life of Spice tells of a father whose secret is accidentally revealed at a time of family anguish. His sons find temptation too great and pit themselves against him to try and benefit unduly from their father's bounty. As they get partly what they want, confusion whips a storm through the train they are riding together and the lives of the brothers and their family all come into question. The story takes place mostly on The Frontier Mail train in 1934 India, spanning Bombay to Peshawar.

So now we’re up to speed, the important information really arrives as we discover that this Finnish Neo-prog-rock-metal outfit create a sound that while reminding of everyone from Dream Theater and Genesis to Symphony X and Galahad, certainly isn’t one dimensional enough to really fall into any one category. Made up of guitarist Kasper Rosqvist, keyboard player Zsolt Szilagyi, bassist Roi Partanen (although it’s Mats Odahl manning the four-string on this recording) and drummer Niklas Finnas, this quartet of musicians are rounded out by English singer Steve Baker, who proves something of a find. With a touch of Michael Sadler (Saga) and James Labrie (Dream Theater) in his delivery, there’s somehow still no getting away from this man’s Englishness, with an ever so slightly tightrope walking attack adding an engagingly unhinged edge that truly lifts his style to another level.

Musically the band are incredibly tight and incredibly intricate, with not even a single hint anywhere that this is a first foray from them. The scope is grand and wide, with mini-piano concerto “Time In Eyes” happily sitting afore the bristling guitars and dramatic drums of “Pernnial’s Prince”, with the end result of the latter almost tumbling crazily into thrash-prog as the riffs buzz and the beat races along. All the while Evans confidently blurts out the words as the keyboards surge from proud stabs to warbling wails and back again. The title track is a Saga-like acoustic strum, that maybe, ever so slightly reveals a chink in the otherwise stellar production work from drummer Finnas. That however is scant complaint when stacked up against the glinting blade of “The Brothers Thirst”, mesmerising “Puppet Of The Three” and epic and bold “The High And The Dry”.

Ambitious, nuanced and exciting, it’s difficult to find much to fault here and if this is the standard that Atom Works continue to reach, then big things surely lie ahead for them. The Life Of Spice is a hugely impressive debut outing and truly exceeds the standards expected of how any new band should announce themselves on the prog scene.

Track Listing
1. 400th Year

2. The Life of Spice

3. The Brothers Thirst

4. Puppet of the Three

5. The High and the Dry

6. Time in Eyes

7. Perennial's Prince

8. The Atom Dance
. Beyond the Old

Added: September 1st 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Atom Works online
Hits: 2661
Language: english

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