Atlases Between the day & i

Atlases - Between the Day and I


The six men from Pori on the West Coast of Finland are back with an album strengthening their own take on metal-related music.

On their third full-length release, the band is confident and mature, with a stylish and modern take on metal. They linger as always between Melodic Death Metal and Post Metal-influences. They are heavy and hard-hitting with their riffs and rhythm section, while at the same time the ever-present imaginative use of synths and electronics plus keyboards give the sound a touch of cinematic ethereal atmosphere. Maybe their own genre description as a band playing Modern Post Metal is more correct after all.

Finland has a proud place in metal music from all genres, be it Black Metal, Funeral Doom Metal, Symphonic Metal, or Post Metal. Sometimes Atlases´ sound takes me back to the early days of Callisto and Ghost Brigade. We can dream, can´t we? A dream gig would be with Atlases and those two on the bill. The Ticketmaster server might have to kneel. And Atlases´ use of electronics with synths hoovering over the music most of the time, has the nice effect of giving the orchestration of the textured music a whiff of Symphonic Metal. So here we are, yet again with a genre-defying band of inventive musicians.

The opening song of the album has all these features morphed into it. Sound effects flow into your ear canals as ”Eyelids of the New Dawn” set out to take you on Atlases´ 42 minutes musical, sometimes tumultuous, journey. Fast bass effects follow the sound effects, a distant explosion and then the heavily distorted guitars kick in. The orchestrated synths and electronic drum pads spread out a wall of sound to lay a foundation for the growling vocals. But not for long: the music simmers down to a wide opening with clean vocals before a new surge into heavily distorted metal, but still with soaring synths in the back. There is a short breather with wide echoing sound effects, clean vocals, and then another swell where we are sucked into the heavy riffs and deep-end bass with hard and diverse drumming. Everything floats forward with widespread soundscapes shifting between hard-hitting riffs and hovering soaring synths.

And it goes on, with every song being a bit of a roller coaster of shifts, twists and turns without once becoming a mess, but rather impressively executed. The vocals levitate constantly between deep, growling and clean, soft.

Growling vocals are almost always an instrument of their own in this kind of music. Atlases uses this to great effect when the growls answer each other like on the track ”Mosaic of Silence”. A track that opens with quite complex and dense guitar riffs. The growling vocals grow and there is a scream or two in the background. The song flattens out a bit as the synths join the sounds. Then vocals come from two canals and drift into a harmonic chorus lifted by a melodic theme from the keys. A short synth-based bridge leads to the next part of the fast riff-based song. It is an impressive song with many layers and an atmospheric texture floating around the music while a guitar seems to be in a holding pattern.

As mentioned, the soundscape of Atlases is differentiated and in each song, especially in the slower parts of the song, you catch a melodic theme that could easily become an earworm would it last just a little longer. But they always turn the song around so that it morphs into a heavy, dense part, with the synths lingering melodically atop of the music. That is one of the parts of their music that makes it utterly dynamic.

On ”Silent Threads”, this is done to great effect. The song has a soft opening with cinematic synths rising like white smoke before it rushes into a riffing melodic theme. There is a shift in the pace with clean vocals and synth-droplets in the background. Drums and bass lead the song forward, while textured music is audible in the background. The sonics glide into a captive melody with clean vocals until the growls are back, but yet the music floats onwards as a backdrop until it becomes more repetitive with heavy riffs. It turns once more into the opening theme with the clean vocals until a rush of melodic crescendo with harmonic vocals morphs into a growling part with a staccato rhythm before the song echoes out with the same theme as in the opening.

On one song they let us have and enjoy the captive melodic earworms they make throughout the whole song: The magnificent beauty of music comes to live in ”Earthshine”. The interaction between clean and growling singing, together with the melodic theme will turn this song into a crowd-pleasing sing-along. Twenty-odd years ago, the venues would be lit up by lighters as the crowd would be singing along ” There’s something in the air, / Breathing the light, earthshine”.

This fourth song around the middle of the album won’t leave your ears after just one hearing - you will catch it at once and not forget it. The rest of the songs on the album need to grow on you for you to catch all their twists and turns and what is hidden in the creases, the deep furrows, and the upper regions of the ethereal atmospheric musical parts. Be patient, you will be rewarded.