Atlas Pain - What the Oak Left
Scarlet Records
Folk Metal
10 songs (51'46")
Release year: 2017
Scarlet Records
Reviewed by Alex

Some of the hardest reviews for me to write is when upon the first listen I am not quite liking the music, yet I need to stick with it to either make it click, or to provide a fair description in the end. Atlas Pain What the Oak Left turned out to be the latter no matter how I tried, so let’s hope I am fair to the Italians after all.

In my modest opinion for folk metal to be successful it needs to have an identity. It can be real or imaginary, but a firm distinctiveness it needs nonetheless. Arkona breathes Slavic pride, Windir and now Mistur are unmistakably Sogndal (part of Norway), a dozen of Finnish bands from Ensiferum to Korpiklaani to Haive can go from historic to goofy to melancholic, but have their own constant stamp on things. Even Rhapsody (of Fire) and Elvenking, although cannot be confused with my favorite bands, are steadfast in their convictions. Even if the land the band is depicting is not real – but instead a dark fantasy territory – Summoning knows how to portray it.

Atlas Pain, on the other hand, has decided to produce folk metal in name only, revealing no identity of its own, and using every stock part and cliché in the process, trying to make it sound “majestic” (The Storm). Imagine something trying to invoke older Children of Bodom, but far less edgy, mix it with an Irish melody or two (The Storm, Annwn’s Gate), provide nimble guitar playing in the process, float in ample keyboard touch in all the wrong places, and deliver main vocal performance which sounds like a suffocating whispering evil troll (To the Moon). The whole What the Oak Left feels unbelievably cartoonish, and had me wondering if Atlas Pain were after a parody of some sort. But then there are efforts to have rapid fire thrash on Bloodstained Sun, and there is liveliness in riffs on Ironforged, which happens to be one of the older re-released tracks, so I am thinking Atlas Pain weren’t trying to make a mockery of it after all, despite the band photo possible suggestion to the contrary. The problem then is that the emerging grit of Bloodstained Sun gets totally drowned in uncalled for soundtracky keyboard sound, and hammer/anvil middle breakdown is no help at all. As soon as something heroic appears about Annwn’s Gate, the spoken vocals kill the mood. And just when I think I may want to re-listen to Ironforged again, The Counter Dance just kills with its ridiculousness.

To close things off with absolutely uncalled for, unnecessary in length (11 min+), instrumental White Overcast Line, which has zero development and redeeming quality, that just puts the nail in the coffin. If you are a little short on ideas, it’s OK, just stop right there, don’t think the digital/printed/music media can handle anything. The only redeeming quality of White Overcast Line is if it were to be picked up by some Knights and Dragons computer game soundtrack.

Safe to say that with the exception of a few songs and here and there moments, I did not enjoy Atlas Pain much.

Killing Songs :
Ironforged, Bloodstained Sun, Annwn's Gate
Alex quoted 62 / 100
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