Lalu - 'Atomic Ark' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 10, 2014    
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The best Progressive Metal album I heard in 2013.

Releasing a much lauded, but largely ignored debut in 2005, keyboard player Vivien Lalu returns with another stunning collection of primarily Progressive, yet also Power and Symphonic Metal which convinces in every way. Eight years ago Lalu offered up 'Oniric Metal' and while the main players in the band which recorded that release all return, most do so as guests this time round; guitarist Joop Wolters (Arabesque/Shadrane), bassist Russell Bergquist (Annihilator) and drummer Ryan Van Poederooyen (Devin Townsend) lending their talents alongside other cameos from keyboarders Jens Johansson (Yngwie Malmsteen/Stratovarius), and Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), guitarist Marco Sfogli (James Labrie) and singers Mike Andersson (Cloudscape/Fullforce) and Peter Wildoer (Darkane/James Labrie). As if that wasn't enough, the main band also includes the returning Martin LeMar (Mekong Delta) on vocals, and newcomers Mike LePond (Symphony X) on bass, Simone Mularoni (DGM), guitars and Virgil Donati (Planet X), drums, as well, obviously, as Lalu himself.

Thankfully unlike most superstar sprinkled projects, Lalu sound like a band and an incredibly accomplished one at that, and even more vitally Vivien is an amazingly skilled songsmith. 'Greed' bursts the album into life, killer riffs blazing, drums hammering, gritty, yet extremely clear vocals soaring; LeMar capable of delivering huge, vast swathes of light and shade with his voice. 'Momento' on the other hand begins like a 'Bladerunner'-esque Vangelis piece of Oriental majesty, which is then scythed through with razor-sharp guitars levelling all before them. 'War On Animals' ups the technicality without losing the intensity (the vocals here are stunning and the lyrics touch on points that all animal lovers will readily agree on), 'Slaughtered' grinds and sings, pounds and sways like Kamelot on Prog steroids, before a Russian Cossack chorus kicks up merry hell! Hey!!

I could go on, every one of the ten tracks smacking with authority and seducing with melody but maybe it's just easier to say that this is the best Progressive Metal album I've heard so far in 2013. Either way, you need to own 'Atomic Ark' and I need to go scurrying back to pick up 'Oniric Metal'!

Steven Reid

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