Being an teenager in Aberdeen, Scotland 15 years ago was a fun time to be around. The music scene was a live (was…) and there were so many great bands out there. One of, if not my favourite of the lot was the Iron Maiden inspired metal heads Black Atom.
Black Atom were a band that a lot of young metal heads looked up to. At the time of their local popularity, Iron Maiden had just released their dire Dance of Death album and we were all looking for a band to fill that void. After releasing a few EP’s, the band into the studio to record their first full length album The Tie That Binds, an album that did just that.
In terms of releases, the band’s previous record Out of Exile was already considered a fantastic piece of music. It had a thirty seven minute running time loaded with complex rhythms, stunning guitar work and some well written lyrics. The follow up The Tie That Binds felt like a natural successor and did nothing but improve on this already popular formula.
I would start by saying that there is not a bad song on The Tie That Binds. Each song for the most part has been very nicely moulded with interesting song structures whilst boasting some curious time changes and off beat rhythms. On top of these complexities was some guitar playing that could of rivalled any metal band on the island at the time. The band’s three guitarists don’t take the time to show off with widdly fast guitar solos, something that a lot of progressive groups like to do. Instead they use well placed melody and harmonies to perform some truly stunning work that is genuinely quite inspiring. Sure, they break into some fairly typical metal moments but they are use very infrequently and are generally used to link one moment to the other.
The guitar work is not the only instrument that impresses on The Tie That Binds. The drumming performed by Len Wiltshire is also top quality stuff. This fellow knows how to mix in complicated fills with a hard simple groove and he sounds like does it with ease. There are numerous tasty drum fills and bass drum beats that will keep the interest of drummers. There is also the matter of the band’s vocalist, a man of short stature with a big personality. The way he sings these songs is very reminiscent of Blaze Bayley in his X-Factor/Silicon Messiah years. He has a vicious snarl and a powerful low range that brings a lot of charm to the song. It is an interesting choice from a group of Iron Maiden fans considering how Mr Bayley was treated at the time.
I dusted this album off after any years of it collecting dust and with nostalgia aside, I would say that this is easily one of the best heavy metal records I bought back then. The production could of been better and some of the backing vocals are a little unnecessary but the product as a whole is stronger then what most bands achieve in their life time. It was certainly miles ahead of anything Iron Maiden were doing at the time and still gives their recent The Book of Souls a run for its money.
Black Atom were a band with a huge amount of talent. With the build up to this record the group had built up a lot of fans in our local area (and made a few local bands jealous). Black Atom sadly never took the next step. They sadly crumbled and dispersed after a fair well show (that I unfortunately missed). I still think fifteen years later that these guys wasted a big opportunity. After releasing The Tie That Binds, they really deserved to go to better places. With the popularity of Facebook and the likes, there is still a chance to get this music out there. I just hope that one day at least one of the band members realise this and get the recognition they deserve.
Where to buy :
Track Listing :
- Broken Alive
- Losing The Truth
- The Watcher
- The Tie That Binds
- All We Are
- Age of Decay
- Truth Divine
- Ashes of the End