On Atlas‘ Shoulders is a band that every music fan must love – and this is not primarily due to the very tastefully chosen band name. The guys from Hessen don’t chase after any trends in the mainstream or underground. Instead, they have already developed into a completely independent-sounding formation on their first two albums, which has a remarkably high recognition value. At the Epic Metal Night in February, they proved that they are also convincing live – and they won many new fans that evening.
With A Dystopian Prequel, On Atlas‘ Shoulders present their first EP. The cover alone makes me smile – but in a purely positive sense: The futuristic as well as colourful motif hardly cares about metal clichés that are used again and again. Yes, this band is different, and they are absolutely right to be proud of it.
The opener “Robot World“, which was already very well received at the above-mentioned gig in Oberhausen, starts with a short, wonderful piano intro that initially exudes 80s vibes and reminds me of Journey (well, that may be because Freedom has been playing a lot lately…). Immediately afterwards it’s Marius who shows with his distinctive voice and band-typical, unique vocal lines that we have arrived in the colourful On Atlas‘ Shoulders cosmos. Thanks to the catchy chorus, we have a real hit on our hands that thrills on the first listen. The very sophisticated, elaborate guitar work by Ben and Björn is another highlight – the wonderful guitar tone alone raises A Dystopian Prequel to a very high level musically. Talking about the sound here: This EP sounds fantastic – why big, established acts often can’t create such a wonderful sound in the studio is a mystery…
The following “Critical Error“, which we had the pleasure of listening to live at the Epic Metal Night, leans towards prog metal of the better kind: Although I like Invictus and especially Hyperion very much, this number was my highlight. In terms of songwriting, we’re dealing with pure perfection here, as On Atlas‘ Shoulders manage to compose a multi-faceted metal track in 2022 that sounds fresh and original at every second – and not only appeals to the head, not least thanks to the rhythm section, “Critical Error“ is also downright sexy (yes, you can’t sit or stand still during it…). All those dullards who are only capable of copying 80s giants in a more or less mediocre way should be ashamed of themselves at this point – there is real art here.
“Poison Ivy“ offers us classic 80s guitars that are simply fun. However, the guys avoid clichés again here, as they go to work in a – one may say: usual – refined way, no matter whether in relation to the six strings or the chorus, which is a veritable earworm. The same goes for the closing “The Call“, which once again perfectly combines ambition and catchiness, so that the first EP in the band’s history ends with another hit.
Conclusion: On Atlas‘ Shoulders fill a niche in the German metal underground that I didn’t even know existed until recently. The band shows that even in the year 2022 you can be tradition-conscious and innovative in metal at the same time. The enormously diverse, intelligent and highly professionally performed music therefore deserves the label “sophisticated metal“, as we are undoubtedly dealing with cuisine for gourmets. If the guys continue on their path – and I don’t doubt that for a second – they will gain a devoted fan base in the next few years, which will hopefully one day become so big that we will also be able to experience the band on larger festival stages, and not already at 12 noon. For the time being, A Dystopian Prequel is a hot contender for the title “EP of the year 2022“.