Friday, October 26, 2007

Atom Strange Rocks

From the opening chords of the first track on Atom Strange's eponymous debut CD, this listener was taken in. It may not be the most original sound around, but it works regardless.

The fact that you are reading about Atom Strange here means at least one thing...they don't suck. And when I say that they don't suck, I mean that this CD is good. I met guitarist Alex Rude in the Manhattan Mall when I asked him about his tattoo for the spawn of BillyBlog, Tattoosday. Read the Atom Strange tattoo post here. Seriously, when he handed me his band’s CD, I said I'd review it but, if it was awful, it would have never made it here, nor would I have given it repeated listens.

The following is a play-by-play, casual review of the 6 tracks on the CD.

"She Said" is a hard-driving rock tune that sounds a lot like the Stone Temple Pilots.

Maybe I was influenced by guitarist Rude's pronouncement that they get compared to early STP a lot. "You tell me what we sound like," he said, when he handed me the CD.

The tunes are now on the BilliPod and they’re not coming off. And I need space.

So, we have the seemingly unavoidable Scott Weiland/STP comparison on track one, but that seems to dissipate as we ease into the second song, "Hollow".

There's something distinctively 80's rockish about this band, and I mean the good aspects and not the bad ones.

“Hollow” starts a little more Velvet Revolver than STP. But then it shifts gears to a harder Vince Neil-esque angst-ridden whine. Iliya Hamovic's drums are noticeably well-struck. Hamovic is no longer with the band, according to their MySpace page. The song is extremely interesting because it shifts gears numerous times and vocalist Rick Dunn goes a little Layne Staley on us. Throughout the track, we are kept guessing by the shifting lyrical moods, unified by Rude's deft guitarwork and the drum's steady beat.

“More or Less” starts off softly with a nice progression of chords. Rick Dunn starts with the lyrics of a rock ballad that dance in and out of emotions, culminating in a crescendo in a song of heartbreak. Rude's guitarwork propels the song forward as the singer attains despair and then
emotes a metalhead's coming to terms with a failed love. "You don't love me anymore".

“Ashes” kicks off with a heavy intro that launches the song into a driving beat. Dunn adequately keeps pace with the guitar and the drums. The intonation of "ashes to ashes" and "dust to dust" is a tad too pop metal corny. Nonetheless, the song intones "this is not the recognition you deserve," and works quite well.

“Unapologetic” starts with a strumming of a guitar and then singer announces "this is no-ot" (pregnant pause), then guitar and a long drawn out “apologeeeeee”! Then the song caroms through an 80s-like progression....I had to concentrate to figure out who they sounded like
here....the guitar work sounded a bit Rudy Schenker a la the Scorpions. The singing however was a little Klaus Meine, a little Joey Belladonna (Anthrax), and an occasional tinge of Dave is quite unique.

“Burn/Spacewalk/Re-entry” carries a little of that Scorpion beat and Motley vocal. The song runs 10+ minutes and incorporates the space motif "I just wanna shoot up to the stars where I belong...." There's a break about 4 minutes in with a nice bass part and some melodic guitar and vocal pairing. The song ends with a narrative from the 1951 sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still.

All in all, I think most listeners will be pleased with what they hear. It’s definitely a debut to take notice of. I look forward to seeing what becomes of Atom Strange, and how they will move from this CD through their personnel changes (bass and drums).

Visit their MySpace page here. "She Said," "More or Less," "Ashes" and "Burn/Spacewalk/Reentry" can be heard streaming there.

Visit their website here to purchase the 8-track CD, which includes radio edits of 2 of the 6 original songs.

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