Allen's Atomic Soul, Russell - Russell Allen's Atomic Soul

Year of Release: 2005
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: SPV 085-40892CD/IOMCD 205
Format: CD
Total Time: 50:11:00

Essentially, Russell Allen's Atomic Soul- both project name and album title - is an homage to classic 70s rock; that often blues-based, guitar-centric type we loved from the likes of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Scorpions, Black Sabbath, etc., just to name a few that come to mind. Just depends on which track you're listening to. It's mostly heavy, rocking, and rough. Like wild, passionate sex, though I'm not quite sure why that particular analogy comes to mind ? and even if I did, I wouldn't tell you. It's also quite melodic and catchy whether a scorching rocker or a power ballad - and all the ranges are heard here.

Unlike Symphony X, Allen's main gig, here Allen lets loose with a throaty, gravelling shout. The guitar solos are bruising, like a spiked leather glove in your face, distorted and raw. And this begins with the first strike called "Blackout," continues with the arrogant and strutting "Unjustified" (which makes me think of harsher Soundgarden) and follows through pretty much every track here, though no two tracks sound a like. The other ballsy track with more than enough braggadocio is "Loosin' You," (*) a song that is basically a "fuck you" to an unfaithful lover. It hints a bit at the classic "Can't Get Next To You" (The Temptations).

"Voodoo Hand" is funkier, recalling - at least to me - another artist with a 70s fixation, Lenny Kravitz. It's the first song Allen completed for the album, according the bio at the InsideOut Music America website, and our own interview with Allen elsewhere on these pages. "Angel" is sultry, slow-burning rocker. No sappy ballad here, and more power than most power ballads have, keeping a gruff, hard and manly rep intact, even as it's a love song (whether the salvation is romantic love or agape?). Actually, the power ballad is the very next song "The Distance," where Allen emulates mid-period Van Halen (the Sammy Hagar days, that is) and also Whitesnake. All the classic "power ballad" touches are here, acoustic guitars, subtle keyboards, soaring guitar solo. All but "sappy," thankfully.

The first few seconds of "Seasons Of Insanity" remind me of Deep Purple's "Perfect Strangers," but goes into something that is at times Dio, at times Iron Maiden, at times Metallica. It ends on a slightly annoying point where Allen repeats the last word of "away" perhaps just a few too many times for my liking? screams it, actually, which may be why I find it annoying. But it is a minor blip on what is otherwise a very tasty album. Grand Funk Railroad (especially their "We're An American Band"), Thin Lizzy and Lynyrd Skynyrd are given the nod in "Saucey Jack" with white hot guitar soloing that recalls all three and all their southern rock brethren.

The epic, middle-eastern styled "Gaia" is probably the only time when you'll think of Symphony X, it tapping into the progressive metal spectrum. And the shimmering "We Will Fly" is the other epic, not just in scope, but also in length. It's a journey of nearly 8-minutes, going from piano mixed with watery keyboards and acoustic guitar, to rolling piano and heavy guitars, to soaring, mid-tempo rock passages. Hagar and Hager-era Van Halen comes to mind again as well as such folks like Night Ranger? an not just Hagar has a song called "Eagles Fly." There's also a freewheeling 70s feel here, a touch of the psychedelic (in some keyboard passages): Journey, Styx? It's one of those inspiring, beating-the-odds, we can get past this "bend of the road" (actual lyric) type of songs.

Jens Johansson guests on keyboards on the title track that closed the album which echoes Allan's performance Star One's Space Metal, the Arjen Lucassen project he guested on back in 2003 (and also on which Johannsen guested)? a rollercoaster epic metal piece. Other guests on the album are Symphony X mates Michael Romeo (guitars and bass) and Michael Pinnella (keyboards), plus Robert Nelson (drums), Jason Freudberg (guitar), and Larry Salvatore (bass for one track). But, in addition to vocals, it's mostly Allen, as he takes on guitar, bass and keyboards (he has pleasant and widdly keyboard solo in "Voodoo Hand"), too.

Atomic Soul is cool album, both because and despite of its strong resemblance to the artists that influenced Allen (he wrote all the songs and arrangements). It's a fun and enjoyable listen that is so involving in a foot tapping, sing-a-long away, that it doesn't wear out its welcome. It's as much as a party, highway driving, album as the work that influenced him. Great stuff.

Yes, dear readers, I have a footnote. The title is spelled incorrectly, as it should be "Losin' You" as in "lose" (misplace) not "Loosin' You," as in "loose" (unscrewed, falling off) - though that given the woman he's singing about is apparently "loose" (not unscrewed? har har), maybe there's a play on words I'm losing?
Blackout (4:52) / Unjustified (3:43) / Voodoo Hand (3:54) / Angel (5:14) / The Distance (4:49) / Seasons of Insanity (4:20) / Gaia (4:33) / Loosin' You (4:01) / Saucey Jack (4:02) / We Will Fly (7:55) / Atomic Soul (3:08)

Russell Allen - vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards
Robert Nelson - drums
Michael Romeo - guitar
Michael Pinella - keyboards
Jens Johansson - keyboards
Jason Freudberg - guitar
Larry Salvatore - bass

Symphony X - The Damnation Game (1995)
Symphony X - The Divine Wings of Tragedy (1997)
Symphony X - Twilight In Olympus (1998)
Symphony X - V - The New Mythology Suite (2000)
Symphony X - Live On The Edge Of Forever (2001)
Symphony X - The Odyssey (2002)

Atomic Soul (2005)

Genre: Rock

Origin US

Added: December 4th 2006
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1412
Language: english


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