ATKINS MAY PROJECT- The Final Cut
Classic heavy metal/hard rock fanatics can rejoice with the latest release by Atkins May Project. Entitled The Final Cut, this driving beast of an album delivers on several different levels. Providing melody, heft and chops nothing short of world class The Final Cut demands your attention.
Al Atkins delivers a pile driving vocal performance focusing more on intensity than dynamics. Atkins is best known as the original vocalist for Judas Priest with song writing credits on their first two albums Rocka Rolla & Sad Wings of Destiny, most notably the Priest classic "Victim of Changes." Guitar virtuoso, songwriter, producer Paul May is not as well known a quantity on the North American shores, but he has cut his chops in Europe for many years both in the studio and on the road.
This being the fourth album release under the moniker Atkins May Project, one will find a substantial array of bristling dynamic classic old school heavy metal. Flying that flag proudly and boldly, one wonders if a ground swell of support can help get them out on the road. Even a support slot on the European festival circuit would be justified. The chance of a North American jaunt? Forget about it! (Alas one can dream, however!!) Influences of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal are all over this release, and most enthusiastically I endorse it!!
Whether it’s the epic length of the title cut with its slow build with atmosphere and subtlety. The Final Cut sets the stage for what is coming, discussing the second coming lyrically on a grand scale that relies on broad strokes instead of infinite detail lyrically. There are two versions of this track on the album, an edited and a full length. With a cranking riff and relentless rhythm, a promise fulfilled this song is. This album opener cranks an up tempo, with a great metal riff.
The blistering guitar solo of "When The Bell Tolls" fills the roll nicely. A mid tempo romp which features a somewhat bluesy riff!! Nicely played. "The War in Between" drives along nicely, with strong riffing and the guitar playing of May. It is amazing to me hearing Al Atkins belting out the lyrics of this tune. A struggle of a redeemed man trying to do what is right and avoid what isn’t. A full on classic metal track that simply plows through.
"This heart is devious I know.
I will not trust you anymore.
Who understands? Who knows the score?
There is no cure. There's only war.
That's why I'm killing the beast.
End this madness.
Waging war. Waging war."
The positive message of "Treading Water" fits quite nicely amidst this global pandemic. "Treading Water" offers another mid tempo rocker that has a stellar riff, dividing between a fabulous groove and a demanding chorus. My personal favorite on this album "Dead Man Bones" moves like a bullet train, I believe Paul May referred to it as “their Motorhead song." They definitely put their foot to the floor on this one; nonstop with a brutal chorus. A song dealing with hypocrisy and the trail of disaster it leaves, yet the way Paul May wrote the lyrics (he is the sole songwriter on this album) it is dealt with in a substantive way. This track is the concert opener!
"Stranger in a Strange Land" at first had me thinking it was an Iron Maiden cover song, but no. A mid tempo track with a great groove. "...Strange Land" provides a different take on the theme of a Christian living in a world that is not his own. "Masquerade" is a full on metal rocker that drives with some absolutely stellar guitar playing from May. Atkins' vocal is so impassioned that it forced me to revisit the lyrics sheet.
Throughout the album, fabulous melodies bleed through the grooves. Paul May provides many stellar harmonies and subtle guitar riffs, you just don’t hear that much these days. For these ears it's very refreshing, speed plus harmony and that all important element feel.
As I’ve listened to this album, I keep hearing bits of Warlord. With that thought were the different production elements and arrangements, an influence? For some reason I’m thinking of Warlord's The Holy Empire release. Possibly; but perhaps as a point of reference only. Mentioning the production, a fantastic sound is had here which harkens back to the 80's, but it is modernized, which just adds perfect atmosphere. Don’t expect some slick polished release, this release has found modern metal voice.
With such a high quality production here I can only hope that there will be at least one more Atkins May Project release. No schlock, just rock and it demands your attention.
The Final Cut by Atkins May Project, is going to be a long player for 2020. Perhaps a top five album, for those who are looking for NEW heavy metal with an old school vibe check this release out. The Final Cut will NOT disappoint.