Monday, August 14, 2017
Atlas Pain: What the Oak Left (2017)
Here we have the debut full-length from Italian folk metal band Atlas Pain. The band was formed in 2013 by Samuele Faulisi, who sings and plays the guitar and keyboard for the band. Atlas Pain has previously released a demo and an EP. As a fledgling folk metal band, it would be too much to expect Atlas Pain to be able to strike the right balance between folk and metal, and they do seem to struggle with it at times. Honestly the keyboards sound somewhat out of place at times and really detract from the guitar work. It is also difficult to tell what kind of regional folk elements the band is going for. At times, it is pretty clearly Celtic folk, but other times the band sounds like they are striving to be more of a straight melodeath band. It is this distinct lack of a cohesive identity that makes this album limited in its effect and longevity.
The other issue is that some of the songs veer very far into cheesy territory, making songs almost unlistenable. The major culprits here are "Till the Dawn Comes" and "The Sword" which utilize a lot of bouncy, lilting keyboard melodies and sing-song choruses that come off far too upbeat. It does not bother me when bands sound like they are having fun, I do enjoy Finntroll and Korpiklaani on occasion, but apart from the harsh vocals, these songs almost sound like they would be at home on a Disney soundtrack. That is probably an overstatement, but they are ridiculously upbeat.
The album is not really bad. The musicians are all competent, and the harsh vocals are reasonably impressive, though it would be nice to change things up a bit more. I enjoy most of the lead guitar melodies and wish those would have taken center stage over the keyboard melodies. Some of the songs are quite good. It is actually kind of a fun listen, the biggest problem is that it is mostly forgettable. The band seems to be striving to create the next Wintersun album. Unfortunately, they just do not have that ability, yet. Time will tell, the talent is certainly there. The results just are not.