Atoma
Skylight

Slumber’s demise was somewhat of a disappointment after their excellent 2004’s full-length Fallout. The album had its own character within melodic death/doom genre of the time, standing somewhere between Katatonia and Finland’s Rapture. The following turmoil between the band members and the birth and death of their new projects left me wondering whether or not the talented pool would ever grace us with another album again, or, if in the end they’d face similar fate as another Swedish band, Madrigal, some years before. Excellent debut out of nowhere, then nothing. You know the drill. Luckily, this story has a happy ending.

Welcome Atoma and the ‘new’ group’s ‘new’ full-length debut, Skylight. Just as the predecessor to another moniker, Skylight rises out of nowhere to become one of the best albums of 2012 thus far. The genesis of the group has had an effect on the internals as well, as members seem to have picked up different roles and instruments, a curiosity that’s pretty much only noticeable after comparing the Atoma’s and Slumber’s albums directly side by side along with the booklet credits.

Those expecting another Fallout straight from the get-go will no doubt become slightly puzzled. With its more open, mechanized, progressive and space-y atmosphere Skylight sounds different, if not completely new and somewhat unheard of. There’s also a clear cinematic layer to Skylight’s compositions  a course of drama that cements the fact that this is indeed a concept album. Despite all the changes, despite the rebirth, as minutes progress it’s also clear from which band Atoma grew out of. Just listen to tracks like “Skylight” (featuring deep growls for old time’s sake) and one of the album’s definite highlights, “Hole in the Sky”.

In that light, I’d also claim that Skylight is a very Swedish sounding album as nearly all the comparisonseven if their directness can be strongly debatedare drawn towards acts like Katatonia and Khoma. However, it’s actually Tiamat that lingered the most in my head as I was floating through the album, trying to grasp the light unfolding. In a way, I can’t but fantasize if this is what Johan Edlund’s material could have sounded like after Wildhoney and A Deeper Kind of Slumber (see that last word?) had he grown an unhealthy interest towards sci-fi themes and philosophical pondering of our own existence. The question is even further emphasized by the fact that at times, vocalist and primus motor (and Slumber’s keyboardist) Ensahn Kalantarpour could easily switch places with Edlund (“Highway” for example).

But what we truly have here is a journey that carries without a hitch or a fault throughout the 47-minute length. The songs are varied as they cater to those that wish to lose themselves in a trance, but Skylight also offers plenty of hooks, memorable melodies and a strong sense of emotion. In the end, once you start dissecting the album like Fox Mulder, the presence of Slumber is truly evident, even if the electronic instrumentals such as the strong album opening “Atoma”, amazing intermission “Bermuda Riviera” and “Solaris”a track that mixes Fifth Element and Blade Runner with the more 2 A.M sort space ambientmight jam your bearings. Oh, there’s also “Saturn & I”. It’s clear that the band’s creative forces aren’t alien towards animated Japanese space operas or video game scores, collectively pulling enough familiar cues to form a strong visual image of the music into the listener’s brain.

To conclude, despite what your expectations might be, it would only showcase your stupidity to miss out on this trip, as Skylight truly is an experience quite like no other in the metal world. It takes the the listener through various locations, scenes and in the end, offers a chance to learn something about yourself. Hopefully, Atoma is here to stay this time around as it would be a goddamn shame for this group not to put out further material  even if we, as humanity, kind of deserve all the shit that’s upon us.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mikko K.
May 15th, 2012

Comments

  1. Commented by: gabaghoul

    great writeup M, very excited to hear this! Loved Fallout and always hoped that Slumber would do a follow-up…


  2. Commented by: Broaden City

    …Grand Metal


  3. Commented by: Bast

    Good review man, the references you used made me go and listen to it asap, not like other reviews i´ve read from the same album; Seems to be hard to categorize…


  4. Commented by: Ben

    Beyond the Tiamat comparison which was immediately noticeable I heard a lot of the last two Ewigkeit albums, music wise, in terms of the futuristic vibe and electronic elements.


  5. Commented by: Apollyon

    I don’t think I’ve crossed paths with Ewigkeit. Thanks for the hint, will try to track them down.


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