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Leads, leads everywhere - 82%

Jophelerx, December 7th, 2017

Another entry into the annals of unknown and forgotten USPM, Atomic Opera's case is especially unfortunate, only releasing a 2-song demo tape before being swept away again, only now in the age of the internet able to leave their mark on more than a handful of people. What we're presented with is highly promising stuff; perhaps not quite top-tier, but close to it, with a fun, warm vocalist, solid riffs, and some talented fellow or another (either Todd Grubbs or Hal Dunn; I have no idea which one) shredding his heart out like there's no tomorrow. Both guitarists went on to join much more well-known heavy/power metal act Siren later on, so at least the talent of the shredder (whichever it was; or perhaps both) didn't go completely to waste, though Siren, too, were relatively short-lived as well as frustratingly inconsistent. Vocalist Ryan Dalton was not so lucky, and these two song are the only remaining legacy of his contribution to heavy metal. Perhaps ironically, his voice is not so dissimilar from that of Siren's Doug Lee.

Both songs are quite upbeat and energetic, falling more onto the "blue collar" side of USPM. With a riffing style reminiscent of Dark Age and Black Knight, it is a shame they didn't record more material. Maybe they did, and that will appear on a compilation within the next few years, as seems to be the trend for obscure USPM bands, but I won't cross my fingers. The only thing I can fault this little demo with it is that the production is somewhat lacking (not surprising at all for a 1985 no-name band demo tape). Still, it's quite listenable, and for the demographic most likely to enjoy it anyway - hardcore USPM fans - it should prove little hindrance, as it sounds better than such already beloved hidden gems as Serpent's Knight, Heathens Rage, and fellow Floridians Oblivion. If you're at the point where, like me, all that's left to hear of 80s USPM are slightly rough 2-track demos, or if you're already a fan of any of the bands I've just mentioned, this will certainly be worth your time and attention.