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Atlas Pain - Tales Of A Pathfinder

Atlas Pain
Tales Of A Pathfinder
by Jack Harding at 29 April 2019, 3:42 PM

Ok. Confession time. I’m not a fan of Power Metal. Or Folk Metal. Or basically anything that ATLAS PAIN is about. It’s just not for me. I’ve tried. God knows I’ve tried, but alas… This album isn’t for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good album. Quite the opposite. In fact, this album is incredibly fun. Even a Power Metal hating Prog Tech Death Grinch like myself, just can’t help but smile whilst listening to this blast of a record. You can tell ATLAS PAIN had a great time making these songs, and it’s so infectious that you can’t help but smile, even if, like me, it is eradicated from your memory the moment it finishes.

First of all, the arrangements here are spectacular. In their Facebook bio, John Williams and Hans Zimmer are listed as influences and you can definitely tell this. The intro track “The Coldest Year” is just so phenomenally triumphant. It legitimately sounds like the protagonist’s theme from a fantasy film, and I love it. The orchestration is great in itself, I just wish the orchestration would have more moments, like this first track, to shine. Most of the time, the orchestration is just there to pad out the guitars with a wall of sound. With an ability for arrangement like this, it just feels like lost potential to not have weaving counterpoint melodies and some really complex harmony, but we unfortunately aren’t given this.

“Kia Kaha” is an interesting experience for me. The intro, with its stellar sound design, Maori drumming and chanting, is totally captivating, creating a complex and dark atmosphere. Unfortunately this is ruined by a generic, overly major and joyous riff that instantly destroys this wonderful atmosphere that they’ve created. The juxtaposition here just doesn’t work. How can you take a band with music this upbeat, seriously? It’s like scoring a tragic death scene in a film with the theme tune to “The Benny Hill Show”. It just doesn’t fit.

I’m left wondering why ATLAS PAIN feel the need to return to the same two or three major scale riffs. Whenever they indulge in the darker and more ‘epic’ side of things, they shine like the brightest supernova. “Shahrazād” is a genuinely great song that I love both objectively and subjectively. It takes a slower, minor riff and develops it wonderfully, by layering on delicate and simple, yet always appropriate orchestration. The chorus manages to have that trademark power metal chant, without ever leaning too far into the realm of cheesiness. And that middle section is genuinely heavy, and is possibly the strongest moment on the entire record. “Homeland” is yet another song where they show restraint, and don’t submit to the clichéd ‘happy clappy’ music, adding orchestration to make some fantastic lead melodies stand out. Lesser songwriters would not be able to make these melodies hit as hard as they do here.

When ATLAS PAIN indulges in the clichés of their genre, they succeed at a level that is obviously beneath them. On this record they show sparks of ability that could raise them to ridiculous heights, with the propensity to even convert naysayers of the genre. However, they seem to cling too tight to these old ideals, as if scared that their experimentation will alienate their established fan base. This record shows the primordial stage of a potentially massive band, but until they commit to progression, this is just a “good” record. I’m not angry with you, ATLAS PAIN; I’m just disappointed.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 5
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Coldest Year
2. The Moving Empire
3. Hagakure’s Way
4. Ódauðlegur
5. The Great Run
6. Kia Kaha
7. Baba Jaga
8. Shahrazād
9. Homeland
10. The First Sight Of A Blind Man
Lineup:
Samuele Faulisi - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, FX
Fabrizio Tartarini - Guitar
Louie Raphael - Bass
Riccardo Floridia - Drums
Record Label: Scarlet Records
     


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