Ambition is not a bad thing. If it weren’t for ambition would At The Drive-In have made Relationship of Command? Would Iggy Pop have gone solo? Would Nirvana have made Nevermind? That said, at times on Atlas Losing Grip’s second LP Currents, there is perhaps a little bit too much going on. This is the sound of a band exploring – no, exhausting – every single idea they have, with a mixed bag of results.
Currents opens with a big, moody two minute Metallica-esque instrumental before finally breaking into a rattling barnstormer of a verse in track one, ‘Sinking Ship’. Make no mistake, this is not punk: this is pure, neck breaking thrash metal. You have big galloping riffs, rapid-fire drums and a touch of cheese in the big anthemic chorus. There are twisty sections and it is difficult to keep up with the amount of ideas being thrown at this piece of music. Could this be a pioneering release in an oxymoronic new genre? Is this the birth of prog-punk?
Next up is the slightly less head spinning ‘The Curse’. This tune is much more accessible and mid paced, with another one of those massive choruses slotted in for good measure. It sounds a little bit like The Wildhearts. The album follows this formula, with a mix of thrash metal and anthemic punk; imagine Bad Religion covering Iron Maiden and you’re close. There’s some good stuff here. ‘Unknown Waters’ and ‘Cynosure’ showcase a band confidently going about doing what they do best. ‘Downwind’ is a particular album highlight, rumbling as it does at a high rate of knots with some brilliant Thin Lizzy like swirls of twin lead guitar.
Confusingly though, despite making no mention of Satanism or the devil anywhere throughout the album, Atlas Losing Grip made a big deal in the press about their new album lasting 66 minutes and 6 seconds. Now, first of all, as a pedant I know that 66:06 is not the number of the beast, and secondly, because of the length of the album, there is a lot of filler here. You get the overly sentimental acoustic work out of ‘Closure’, six minutes of ‘Kings and Fools’ that meander away but don’t ever really go anywhere, and ‘Ithaka’ which – excuse my language – is 11 minutes long for fuck’s sake. There’s a big embarrassing chorus that sounds like it was ripped directly out of a Dragonforce song and about 2 and a half minutes of sea noises. The album may well be 66 minutes and 6 seconds long but some of those minutes are a total waste.
In fact, over the second half of the album, it really loses its way as Atlas Losing Grip saw fit to really run with their ‘everything including the kitchen sink’ philosophy. There really is no need for the two bars of electronic drum samples in ‘Through The Distance’ and I’d have given the album an extra high 5 had they not bothered recording ‘Cold Dirt’ which is within touching distance of being a straight up Bon Jovi piano ballad.
Currents then, is a frustrating listen. There is probably a full album’s worth of cracking stuff here; it’s just bolstered by a lot of really bad stuff. Not one person in the studio ever stopped and said “maybe this is a bit too much lads.” Not one person said “are you sure this is necessary?” As a result, Atlas Losing Grip sound like a band wrestling with their identity, who have made an album that is all at sea.
2 out of 5 high fives!