Review by Paddy Gallagher for MPM
I’ll admit that AOR tinged Melodic Hard Rock wouldn’t be on my radar apart from a few usual suspects like Journey, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, Toto, and long running UK specialists FM. Atlas, from Manchester England is a nice find that completely took me by surprise.
They are now on album number 3 “Built to Last” which is due for release 20th October this year, and these guys have made serious inroads in the Melodic Rock scene scoring tours with The Quireboys, Praying Mantis, Eric Martin, and FM. Their musicianship and song writing skills deservedly being recognised by their contemporaries.
Opening track and recent single “All or Nothing” starts us off with James Thorley’s symphonic keyboard and Howie Little’s heavy ass riffage, as the verse heads to the first big hook chorus featuring Craig Wells vocal prowess. The rhythm section of Chris Redfearn on bass and Ryan Briggs on drums announce their intent contributing to the whole feel of the song.
“You’re Not Alone” with a “woah-oh-oh” sing along chorus nicely continues the melody as song number 2 followed by “One More Night”.
“Built To Last” giving of Mike & The Mechanics vibes at the start with Howie’s nicely repeating bundle of notes building the feel until just before the 3-minute mark when a tasty solo takes the feels up a level. This is a powerful, well-constructed song that would fit well onto the soundtrack of a blockbuster film set in yesteryear. “Unfamiliar Love” brings back the riff with an up change in tempo and a keyboard solo before Howie lets rip on his fretboard.
The second half of the album is heavier than its melodic first half and contains strong progressive influences, plus you can feel Howie struggle to maintain control of his fingers as he gets to tear up his fretboard but professionally keeping his undoubted talents in check and within the context of the songs.
The album’s pièce de résistance is the three-part Chasing Portraits suite. First part “Chasing Portraits i – Lonely Hearts” is a strong piece of music that should be on every setlist the band performs from here on in, either as a stand-alone, or but hopefully as part of the suite; these three pieces deserve to be aired together. Excellent musicianship and song construction that deserves a large audience. Maybe a wee Deep Purple influence here from James Thorley’s keyboard works, but no harm in that. “Chasing Portraits ii – Closer to the Picture” follows and “Chasing Portraits iii – Painted Memories” concludes a suite of progressive, melodic highlights from an album briming with a load of melody.
“Bury A Lie” is a heavy piece sure to get the fists in the air and air guitars played at gigs. Howie really gets to fire chunky riff after chunky riff on this one. Which leads us to album closer “Best is Yet To Come”, an up-tempo sing-along, hands in the air anthem.
It’s refreshing to stumble on a relatively new band making this kind of guitar music. As the last track promises, the best is yet to come. A great statement of intent from the band as they can be rightly proud of their achievements to date. As is the case of many bands in the UK and Ireland, geographic location may have been a hindrance to date, I have no doubt Atlas would have been on my radar had they been based in the US as they would have availed of greater exposure and found touring easier logistically. Visit their Bandcamp page and support them, every penny counts in today’s music industry.
Continued upward trajectory lads. You deserve it!
“BUILT TO LAST” – TRACK LISTING
EAN Code: 4056813553161 Cat Number: MPR0155
1. All Or Nothing (4:09)
2. You ’re Not Alone (4:24)
3. One More Night (4:15)
4. Another Heartbreak (4:09)
5. Tears (5:31)
6. Unfamiliar Love (4:25)
7. Just Like That (4:19)
8. Chasing Portraits I: Lonely Hearts (6:53)
9. Chasing Portraits II: Closer To The Picture (3:13)
10. Chasing Portraits III: Painted Memories (5:38)
11. Bury A Lie (4:47)
12. Best Is Yet To Come (5:38)
Find out more here: https://atlas.spread.link/youre-not-a…
Pre-save BUILT TO LAST now: https://save-it.cc/metalapolis/built-…
BAND: Craig Wells – Vocals Howie Little – Guitars James Thorley – Keyboards Chris Redfearn – Bass Ryan Briggs – Drums
Get in touch with ATLAS: FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/atlasprojectuk
Feature Photo by Mark Ellis