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ATOMIC OPERA - For Madmen Only

It is so wonderful to have this release back in circulation. When this was originally released back in 1994 on Giant Records it was such a breath of fresh air in the rapidly deteriorating metal scene. This release, along with the first two Galactic Cowboy albums, was ground-breaking original melodic progressive metal with infusions of contemporary (at that time) elements. While so many others in the genre were following the Dream Theater path formula, these guys were doing their own thing. I've posted my original review from 1994 below for reference, but the mix of crunchy/heavy riffs, funk grooves, Native American elements, wonderful melodies infused with insightful and provoking lyrics was, and remains to this day, a great combination. Rock Candy bought the rights to this and have released this re mastered "collector's edition." The original cover artwork has been retained but the booklet now contains a nicely written and very fascinating history of the origins of the band and the "documentary" of what went right and what sadly went wrong with Atomic Opera in those early days. It's a great read and contains much information I had not previously heard. Sad that the original lyrics with their accompanying artwork couldn't be included, but I suppose the book would have grown too big.

The remastered sound is well worth a listen — the new version has a significantly beefier low end punch, especially the bass drum. I remember loving these songs on the original release but the sound was somewhat anemic in terms of low end kick. The drums in "War Drum" especially really have a much more impactful presence, and the "wall of sound" low-end guitars on songs like "Joyride" and "Justice" jump out of the speakers now. I didn't remember this being such a sonically powerful album in that regard so the improvements are noteworthy. I think there is just a cleaner sound overall, especially evident on the title track where the more opening guitar notes carrying the melody are pristine. I definitely consider For Madmen Only one of the best and most original progressive metal albums from the 90's era. The new presentation and mastering take it to the next level - near perfect. [Rock Candy]


Circa 1994

This is a very original progressive metal masterpiece – heavy, groove-laden tunes with a very hard-to-categorize sound. There is a Galactic Cowboys influence to the riffs but not to the point of sacrificing originality. The lyrics are quite clever and may take some time to digest. The excellent mid-range vocal delivery by Frank Hart is very credible and does not really sound out of place in this riff oriented mix. Speaking of that crunch, the dual-driven guitar sound is the hallmark of these songs. A very heavy rhythm drives the tune from below while the lead guitar creates intricate melody/solo on top. I wish more bands would take this approach. The packaging and production are first-rate with pictures to help describe each song. Obviously this is a very well thought-out project from start to finish. Highlights for me are “Joyride,” “Justice,” “All Fall Down” and “Blackness,” but all the songs here are excellent. “New Dreams” is very eclectic and grandiose – very similar to “Speak To Me” from the Galactic Cowboys self-titled album.

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