Arcane Atlas are a band from Brentwood, Tennessee in the U.S.A. and this is their second album. It features five songs, the opening Metris Tsemär being a 26-minute conceptual piece about a dictator of that name and his evil ways. It’s an interesting piece, similar in style to 2112 by Rush, but it is also more harsh in tone and sound, not unlike early Dream Theater in parts with prominent bass parts in the various sections of the tale.
Like 2112 the song is in five differing sections, each clearly different but with no break to differentiate them. The
opening segment, Lesturs Spirit works as an overture with sweeping keyboards, strummed acoustic guitar and church organ sounds opening the piece up before a more delicate passage of quietly plucked guitar arpeggios. The initial spoken introduction is delivered in a chilling manner, it is clear that this song was influenced by George Orwell’s dystopian tale 1984 and its bleak portrait of the future, which seems to be truer than ever nearly 25 years on. With the scene set, section two opens with a very epic guitar solo, sounding very like Steve Rothery in the way in which it is structured and built, with good use of delay to thicken the sound out.
The song continues and leads to parts four (Realization) and five (The Battle) where marching feet and the sounds of warfare are set against some strident guitar chords and effects, as the battle rages a fluttering synth lines appears. This section is fairly intense as the piece heads towards a conclusion. It’s a good piece, albeit confusing without there being any lyrics with the CD to explain the story in any depth, but even so it is an assured piece.
Break is up next, a short musical interlude with speech explaining the switch of songs from the epic to the shorter pieces that follow. Aubrey is a shorter and more accessible piece that opens with Destin Frost and Si Deane and some radio samples introducing a very upbeat and horn driven sound, very much like Aztec Camera in style, although it slows down significantly in the chorus before picking up the pace again. It sounds very late ’80s and is certainly different, but it’s a good song nonetheless. It would be a good single for radio.
The Mark follows, opening with a single guitar string being played before some very Rush-like bass and guitar are employed again. This is pretty fast-paced with great guitar and some fine keyboard work bolstering proceedings, ending with a saxophone squeal.
Tomahawk Man continues the Rush vein with intriguing lyrics as they sing of the “valleys of Restlessness”, Si Deane’s guitar providing an extensive solo passage, admirably backed by his colleagues, before a gentle piano and melodious section featuring sound effects in the mix before rejoining the main refrain offset by soaring guitar.
This is certainly not a run of the mill album by any stretch and will require many listens to understand and comprehend proceedings fully. I’ve heard it countless times and I’m still discovering what it is all about.
Final track, Small Things, brings the album to a close with drum paradidles played against guitar and bass, with a gentle vocal. Throughout this album the playing is uniformly fine and in Si Deane they have a guitarist who is worth watching as he is a particularly good player with a great tone and some fine skills. The song is optimistic in tone and a good conclusion to what is a very intriguing album and one that shows that Arcane Atlas are definitely a band to watch over the coming years as they mature and compose more of their challenging and artistic music.
I strongly recommend this one, especially if you are a Rush fan as they are similar in style although not a clone of that great band.
01. Metris Tsemär (26:39)
– i) Lesturs Spirit
– ii) Tirupin
– iii) Spark of Creation
– iv) Realization
– v) The Battle
– vi) Pelisage
02. Break (2:05)
03. Aubrey (4:04)
04. The Mark (5:29)
05. Tomahawk Man (8:15)
06. Small Things (7:42)
Total Time 54:19
Drew Brown – Bass
Destin Fost – Percussion
Si Deane – Guitars
Jake Cannon – Keyboards
Jweffery Wills – Horns & Saxaphone
Ann Richards – Flute
Glen Wanner – Upright Bass
Record Label: InsideOut Music
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Date of Release: 16th February 2016