What The Oak Left
Released: 2017, Scarlet Records
First impressions are important of course and the absolute gorgeous cover art for the debut album by Atlas Pain drew me right in. Created by Jan Yrlund, I think he is becoming one of my top five metal cover artists of all time. One listen and it was off to the internet to pre-order my copy!
Atlas Pain is a relatively new band from Italy who has released an independent debut EP before getting signed by Scarlet Records. The album called WHAT THE OAK LEFT is a stunning work. Firmly encamped in the aggressive Folk/Celtic/Thrash/Power realms, these guys are a totally professional act.
The ten songs on WHAT THE OAK LEFT blend speed, power, melody, aggression and beautiful into a cohesive whole. The vocals are quite harsh but not indecipherable, but certainly in the death/thrash style. This is not your happy, bouncy folk but a much streamlined and meaner delivery with excellent injections of folk influences. The track ‘The Storm’ is punchy and fun but the band rarely descends (for lack of a better term) into rollicking sing-along drinking songs. There are quite a few big gang-choruses but they have a lot of intensity. The pace of the whole immaculately produced album is pretty fast. I don’t usually quote the bands own press but on their Facebook page they say, ‘Equilibrium, Wintersun, Ensiferum, Hans Zimmer, John Williams.’ That is a pretty accurate comparison as there is certainly a ton of big Hollywood film-score epic sound going on, but never overwhelming. The lilting, celtic melodies on ‘Annwn’s Gate’ are very enjoyable and memorable and the big female choirs in the cut ‘From The Lighthouse’ compliment the intense Metal. I feel they are one of the heavier bands in the popular sub-genre.
Atlas Pain can certainly play and shred but they can also ease back and write a beautiful song. For example, the album ends with a lush and gorgeous instrumental called ‘White Overcast Line’, which although slightly mellower, and almost out of place compared to the much heavier bulk of the songs, is just a compelling listen. It is an uplifting symphonic, progressive piece, laced with keyboards, acoustic piano and a chugging pace that keeps its moving along. At 11 minutes it never feels short and I am always disappointed when it is over.
Atlas Pain made an immediate positive impression and will leave a lasting impact on me this year as a possible candidate for new discovery / best new band of the year categories.
1. The Time and the Muse
2. To the Moon
3. Bloodstained Sun
4. Till the Dawn Comes
5. The Storm
7. The Counter Dance
8. Annwn's Gate
9. From the Lighthouse
10. White Overcast Line
Samuele Faulisi Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Fabrizio Tartarini Guitar
Louie Raphael Bass
Riccardo Floridia Drums