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AtmOsfear: Zenith

It has happened to me twice here in 2009. You stumble upon a band that you have never heard of which totally blows you away. The first time was with the band Anima Mundi out of Cuba. Now, it has happened a second time.

From Germany comes the band AtmOsfear with their third release called Zenith. After hearing this one, I am now they have me on a mad search for their past two discs. I cannot believe that they have been ignored by the prog metal world if the past music is as good as this album. Any fan of groups such as Dream Theater, Symphony X or Evergrey whom they have shared a stage with, are in for a treat that is the equal of any of these bands.

The disc kind of lulls you in with the short instrumental intro titled "Beginnings". Aptly titled as this is only the start of what is about to fill your senses. The five remaining songs fill the remaining 70 minutes of music and it culminates in the almost 30 minute epic "Spiral Of Pain". Along the way you are treated to a group of five musicians that can hold their own with anyone you would like to name. Stephan Kruse on keyboards, vocalist Oliver Wulff, bassist Burkhart Heberle along with drummer Tim Schnabel and guitarist Boris Stepanow form one of the most dynamic group of musicians ever assembled. They seem to draw off each other and interweave their individual talents into one of the best musical offerings of 2009 or any year for that matter.

When music has the power to make you stop what you are doing and listen then you know you have something special. As the very metal opening to "Loss Of Hope" hit me I perked up the ears. When the vocals started, I knew this was no run of the mill offering. Then as the band swelled to their full magnitude, I was completely absorbed. Who are these guys? It is still amazing that music of this caliber can fly under the radar for this long. All you have to do is listen to the exchange between the keyboards and guitars during the extended instrumental section of this song and you will become a fan without a doubt. These guys are the real deal.

I have been trying to think of what I can tell you are the highlights of this disc. Well it could be the terrific instrumental piece "Reawakening" with its powerful piano that sets a mood that the guitar plays off of so well, or it may be the enthralling "Generations" which is a roller coaster ride of sound. Then there is the edgy "Scum Of Society" which shows that they are as powerful lyrically as they are musically. Of course all this is setting you up for the epic "Spiral Of Pain" where they take you on a 30 minute quest for musical perfection. They leave nothing on the table as this vast work captures all that we prog metal lovers dream of. Intoxicating from beginning to end this is a classic piece of art. Where Michelangelo used many different mediums to project his art, AtmOsfear similarly uses many different musical approaches to convey their message, melancholy when called for, melodic where needed, brooding and harsh as the story calls for and totally mesmerizing throughout.

This is a must have disc. For anyone who has a love of great music this is one that needs to be given a chance. You will not be disappointed.

Track listing:

1. Beginnings
2. Loss Of Hope
3. Generations
4. Reawakenings
5. Scum Of Society
6. Spiral Of Pain

Added: January 3rd 2010
Reviewer: Scott Ward
Related Link: Band's Myspace Page
Hits: 4942
Language: english

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AtmOsfear: Zenith
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2015-10-17 10:32:50
My Score:

Six year cycles seem to be the norm for Atmosfear, with 1997 seeing their self titled debut release, which was followed up in 2003 by the Dream Theater, Evergrey and Poverty's No Crime inspired Inside The Atmosphere. Waiting another six year term Atmosfear are back, this time with Zenith. Genre wise, this new album also falls into the prog metal arena, however this is what I would describe as "toned down" prog metal. There's less histrionics and virtuosity on show (not that I'm suggesting the band aren't masters of their instruments) than you would care to find on the most recent albums from the standard bearers of the scene. Instead Atmosfear spend more of their time building the atmosphere(!) of their music. Whilst that in itself is no bad thing, I have to admit to preferring melody and structure over technique anyday of the week, in this case it has resulted in a set of songs that lack the ability to stick in the mind. I have listened to Zenith over and over and have to admit to finding it to be an enjoyable, but forgettable experience. There's nothing wrong with any of the melodies, or themes introduced throughout the album, however once it has finished I have to admit to having nothing from the tracks left in my memory banks.

Boris Stepanow on guitars and Sytephan Kruse on keyboards are extremely adept at their crafts, however both drive the songs along at a reasonably sedate pace, although there is plenty of emotion and skill in the performances. Vocalist Oliver Wulff also gives an impassioned display of his talent and he has a striking if somewhat generic voice. Not to be outdone, Burkhart Heberle and Tim Schnabel on bass and drums respectively are tight and solid throughout and display enough chops to impress on a regular basis. It's just that along with a non descript production there is little in the way of hard hitting material that demands your attention.

There may be only six tracks on this album, but it's length of around the 70 minute mark does actually work against it. Some shorter, sharper, snappier tracks could have resulted in some of the fat being trimmed from the meat of the songs and given them a more urgent impression. Too often the music wanders off into smooth listless pieces that neither seduce, nor build into something grander.

Having said that, the standout track on the album is the near half hour long "Spiral of Pain", which illustrates that when the band concentrate their efforts on working the more sedate passages into harder, more focused forays, then the results can be most interesting. Wulff also appears to relish the space in which to really expand his vocal delivery and his efforts become a focal point on which everything else revolves around. Here too there are moments that could have been trimmed down to make a harder, lasting impact, however the overall feeling is grandiose and pompous, in a good way.

So with "Spiral of Pain" as a centre piece, four of five, shorter, catchier numbers could have elevated Zenith above the gentle almost walking pace that all too often bogs the music down.
By no means a bad album, however it's just not diverse or focused enough to merit repeated listens.

AtmOsfear: Zenith
Posted by Scott Jessup, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-01-03 09:15:16
My Score:

Ever hear of a German progressive metal band called AtmOsfear? Well I hadn't until now that is, so for those of us who are new to this band, Zenith, their third release, is a nice initiation. After getting my first taste of Arcane and their excellent progressive album Chronicles Of A Waking Dream, I was keen to hear this other progressive band for the first time.

As the title says "Beginning" is just that, track one of Zenith is a short-lived instrumental which is brimming with keyboards, flowing into the heavy guitars and duplicating drum kicks that launch "Loss Of Hope". The five tracks that follow range in length from seven and a half minutes of the solid instrumental "Reawakening", to just under a very lengthy thirty for this CDs closer "Spiral Of Pain". AtmOsfear's music on Zenith is pleasingly composed and capably performed, they present a welcome combination of heaviness with atmosphere and sound vocals.

AtmOsfear are a promising addition to the thriving progressive genre. While Zenith trails the top progressive releases of 2009, the appeal is still there to warrant a score of four stars.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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