Athlantis – M.W.N.D.
Occasionally in the shining land of power metal, we run across bands that mix the ancient ancestral secrets of Helloween, Gamma Ray, Iron Maiden, etc. with the somewhat more suspect stylings of hard rock. Sometimes it’s done fabulously well (Unisonic), sometimes it’s all right (Edguy), and sometimes it’s a joke (Freedom Call). In the case of Italy’s Athlantis, it’s just plain confusing.
Adding to the somewhat questionable recent roster of RockItUp records, Athlantis’ M.W.N.D. is the band’s first release in almost ten years, and at first I was delighted to have found this promo. The first couple of songs, despite rather conventional and transparent lyrics (drugs, sex, love, etc.), are extremely tight and powerful, with some exceptionally strong, powerful vocals, solid guitar work, and very good production. I am reminded of other south and eastern European bands that have lately taken the USPM track rather than playing the lighter style that was made typical during the 1990’s- but only for the first three songs. “Madness Is Rising”, “Getaway”, and “The Final Judgement” are all potent, rollicking power metal tracks that left me with an eyebrow poised carefully to arch higher. However, things begin to unravel rather quickly.
“Strong As Your Love” is definitely a hard rock tune, from the title to the broad, simple riffing, to the obvious lyrical agenda. Thoroughly unremarkable, I was understandably disappointed and impatient for more of the previously indicated potential to wash over me. Next, however, comes the soft and forgettable “Faraway” (I don’t think this band understands that “away” doesn’t just attach itself to whatever word precedes it), after which I was truly restless. Finally, Athlantis blew nearly all of my hopes with the completely useless, if catchy, “Dry Gin” (which is exactly what it sounds like). From here on out, I felt cheated until the advent of closer, “Holy Call”, which brings back a shadow of the mid-paced, beefy power metal that I was teased with for the first fifteen minutes.
So, four out of ten tracks are good, but even those are plagued at times by stupid lyrics, and completely guilty of raising expectations far too high for the rest of an otherwise forgettable album. For a hard rock/AOR band, this might be admirable work, but I was promised power metal and received enough of it to whet my appetite. Like most metal listeners, the old bait and switch is not something that I take kindly to (I’m looking at you, Freedom Call). Therefore, I can’t really recommend more than a passing listen to M.W.N.D. and its three or four pretty good songs. It might be a gateway album for some, but I expect better. If Athlantis concentrated solely upon one style or another and hired a competent lyricist who used a pen rather than a rubber mallet, these guys could go somewhere.
Dan’s Rating: 2.5 out of 5