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Atomic Arena: 90. Close to the edge of perfection - 90%

Kalelfromkrypton, January 16th, 2008

If by the time Bruce Dickinson left Iron Maiden they would have put this guy to sing almost nobody would’ve noticed the change of singers. Mike Lee has the same power, range and operatic vocal style of Bruce’s. I could guess (according to one interview to the band’s mastermind Ray Parris once in a Heaven’s Metal video) that once he listened to the guy he said: ‘This is it, the guy we’ve been looking for, pure and straight Bruce Dickinson alike’’.


With Atomic Arena they made an album worthy of worldwide recognition due to the crunch guitar tone, the soaring vocals and the powerful drumming knocking you down throughout.


The highlights are obviously Imaginary Music which got a video and a lot of airplay in MTV and Living Dead with its exquisite guitar riffing and double bass delicious rhythm parts. RFTK was much Christian worship lyrics focused but Atomic Arena shows more mature lyrics from murder, abortion (like Dr. Hatchet from Seventh Angel), terrorism, satanic sects, violence and of course God’s praise songs. There is only one ballad in Heaven or Nothing and it is very good actually. The only problem I find with these guys is the overwhelming use of keyboards. I mean, for a kick ass metal album they are too much for me. Virtually every song has keyboards providing atmosphere but they sometimes eclipses the guitars which I find annoying with any band.


The guitar distortion is even heavier than Iron Maiden and the riffing parts I find them more interesting, sometimes like Candlemass due to the heaviness and speed but the songs fall more in the basic mid tempo like Judas Priest’s ‘Paintkiller’ and an up tempo song in Cultic Regimes, pretty much like ‘The Way’ from Stryper but a little faster.


What really sucks in here is the cover. Around the beginning of the 90’s we already had really good covers like Maiden’s, Megadeth’s, Stryper’s and some others. But in here we get total lack of creativity for an album that stands out by itself as a heavy metal banner.


Outside this a remarkable effort from one of the most underrated heavy metal band that deserves a place in the heavy metal halls. Better things were yet to come but with this they sure kicked Iron Maiden’s ass and gave us a metal pleasant experience to dig into.