Russell Allen's Atomic Soul - Russell Allen's Atomic Soul
InsideOut Music
Bluesy Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
11 songs (50:05)
Release year: 2005
InsideOut Music
Reviewed by Cody
Album of the month

My first real in depth exposure to Russell Allen’s incredible vocals was through Arjen Lucassen’s incredible metal opuses known as Star One and Ayreon. Lucassen’s progressive projects such as these harness the best vocals in all of metal, which makes it easy to see why Lucassen chose Russell Allen as one of his singers. Allen’s voice is very soulful, in which every note is taken with great care to be the best yet that has been ushered into the harmonic world.

Of course, after my experience with Ayreon and Star One, I started listening to more of Allen’s main band, Symphony X. Once I learned to appreciate Allen’s talents, I began to appreciate this music more and more. As my fondness for Symphony X grew, I was delighted to find out that Allen had recently made a solo album entitled Russell Allen’s Atomic Soul. I acquired this album as quickly as possible, and listened to it with great surprise and appreciation.

The appreciation for this solo effort was based on the very aspect that I have written the last two paragraphs on—Allen’s incredible vocal performance. Once again, Allen has made it criminal to say anything negative about his abilities as a vocalist. It is not uncommon for a fresh music project, even from an established artist like Russell Allen, to catch flack from critics. In the case of Russell Allen’s Atomic Soul, I would personally question the credibility of anyone who called Allen’s performance anything less than good (at the very least).

While I appreciate the hell out of Allen’s passionate exposition on this album, I was surprised to hear the output of the instrumental portion of this endeavor. Gone are the progressive elements, gone are the flashy keyboards and sound effects (with a few exceptions here and there), and gone are the crazy intricate solos. In place of the blazing melodic progressive power bands that Allen’s fanbase has been accustomed to hearing him sing with, we are given a smoked filled bar in some bumfuck area of the United States where slide guitars replace keyboards, and bluesy riffs replace shredding. Yes folks, Mr. Allen has pulled out his old school licks, old school that is reminiscent of Kenny Wayne Shephard, Jimmy Hendrix, Zakk Wylde, Black Sabbath, Motorhead, and yet still a dash of Rush tossed in for good measure, all mixed together.

For a fan that is expecting a sleek, beautiful piece of refined musical craftsmanship, they should revert back to Symphony X’s back catalog to help ease the pain, because Russell Allen has obviously filled a void in his creative aspirations by diving into the music that he grew up on--the gritty “I don’t give a shit about baroque” bastard offspring of the blues rock era, of which he pulls off with flying colors.

Those that enjoy a bit of retro in their diet will find this album as enjoyable as a bar fight with a belly full of swill. Okay…bad example, but you get the idea.

Killing Songs :
Voodoo Hand, The Distance
Cody quoted 90 / 100
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