Debut albums are exciting to review as you go in with unexpectations rather than expectations. There is no backlog of albums to sample prior to listening. There are no “best of” CDs to pop in to see if our cast of players ‘still got it’. Nothing! It’s just pop it in and see what the hell we have! Well… Atlas Pain had a minor EP release in 2015 that went mostly unnoticed in the metal scene. Their 2015 mini offering included tracks ‘Ironforged’ and ‘The Storm’ in a near beta capacity with some pretty under qualifying mixing standards.
We have Samuele Faulisi on guitars, keys and vocals, Fabrizio Tartarini on guitars, Louie Raphael manning bass and Riccardo Floridia on drums. Every song feels crisp and on key which, compared to their EP, is a step in the right direction. Atlas Pain categorize themselves as a hybrid symphonic/folk metal act. Combining these two elements into your music can be a trying task that many have succeeded at while many have also failed.
Jumping right into our track list, we are introduced with an ambient opening that lures us into a booming intro with a guttural cry in ‘To the Moon’. Great build up, nice chorus. ‘Bloodstained Sun’ feels a bit too much “me too!” if you ask me. Not a bad track, but its purpose is? ‘Till the Dawn Comes’ has a somewhat awkward slow piano build up that, combined with the keyboards, kind of feels like a more recent Manowar song intro. ‘The Storm’ is one of the album’s strongest showings. Glorious metal intro with great progressions throughout!
‘Ironforged’ has plenty to offer, with a nice build of momentum into the final chorus. ‘The Counter Dance’ is a nice speedy shanty tune. It’s one of the more ‘folky’ songs we’re given. It’s easy to imagine a goblin hopping on bar stools with a flute, singing the lyrics (maybe I’ve been listening to too much Nekrogoblikon?). ‘Annwn’s Gate’ is the killer track off this list. Intensity grows into a flaming ball of symphony while touring through the entire track! There is a polished keyboard/chant transition in its centre, which offers depth not seen enough over the length of this album.
‘From the Lighthouse’ is good, but sort of forgettable. Very eerie intro with voices and a classic sounding drum beat. Our finale comes in the form of a 12-minute instrumental. ‘White Overcast Line’ has a somewhat cheesy overtone throughout much of it, something that almost feels like it would make a great montage from an 80s’ medieval film… but I like it! I think it’s a great track and offers something you don’t get often enough. While it may feel a tad bit filler, I enjoy these oddities included on albums, especially as the final track.
Overall, ‘What the Oak Left’ feels a bit shallow, honestly. ‘Atlas Pain’ have yet to discover their own identity with this debut work. They have created an assortment of songs that combine elements of symphonic and folk metal while not necessarily mastering either. They also seem to struggle bringing much unique in this release; however, what they have given us could be seen as the perfect gateway drug to introduce those extreme folk/ irgins, that we all know. Slip a few tracks like ‘Annwn’s Gate’ or ‘The Storm’ to them and they may come around to trying out bands like Korpiklaani, Ensiferum or even Arkona, without intimidation!
Even with a few negative marks to hash out, no hate at all for this release. Found it to be a well-produced album that includes a few catchy tracks. Would be great for someone new to the folk/fantasy genre. I hope very much to see Atlas Pain grow into a key act on future releases. Recommended for a listen!
WHAT THE OAK LEFT
Review by Joshua Jaeger
10th March 2017
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
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"They have created an assortment of songs that combine elements of symphonic and folk metal while not necessarily mastering either."