Album Review: On Atlas’ Shoulders – Hyperion

On Atlas Shoulders

Album Review: On Atlas' Shoulders - Hyperion
Reviewed by Jon Wigg

When you describe yourself as "Epic Heavy Metal of the highest order" there are certain bands that may spring to mind immediately. The pomp and OTT bravado of Manowar, the dual guitar attack of Judas Priest, the chug and gallop of Iron Maiden are ones from the older school. The massive and distinctive sound of Sabaton could be a more recent example. So do Germans On Atlas’ Shoulders live up to their grandiose self-imposed standards? Well no, but there is a lot to like on their second offering ‘Hyperion’

Overall this is an album of varying quality although the songwriting is strong throughout. Marius Bönisch is at the same time, and often within a few seconds, a very strong and very frustrating vocalist. His tenor range including some well introduced harsher sections are superb and his voice soars. His higher range, at times, really struggles and you can hear it on the record. Take ‘5 Billion Years’ as an example. The verse is a difficult listen but the chorus at a lower register is excellent.

Album Review: On Atlas' Shoulders - Hyperion

And then there are the choices made of when to adopt a second guitar behind a solo section. Often these are accompanied only by the rhythm section which can sound disjointed and really break up the flow of the track although the drum work from Leonard Pick is excellent, and the next time, the second guitar chugs along really well behind adding meat and it’s a joy to hear. This is also evident on ‘5 Billion Years’.

Despite these quibbles, as I said there is a lot to like on ‘Hyperion’. The opening track ‘Executioner’ is a strange mix of power nu and metalcore with a funk bass section stuck in the middle. The first time I heard it, I thought it was a real mess, but after a few listens, it really stuck in my brain and now I really like it. The video, whether intentionally or not, is a comedic delight - full of OTT imagery and definitely worth checking out.

There are some good power metal tracks here - ‘Ruins’ and ‘When Heavens Collide’ for example, which bounce along well. ‘Age of Fire’ ups the tempo with a lovely gallop and some good use of harsher vocals.

The second half of the album is a lot stronger for me. ‘To the Wolves’ shows Marius’ range well and avoids those painful shrieks from earlier and again definitely has more epic sections. ‘Flight of the Falcon’ has some really interesting progressive ideas but suffers a little as it’s quite disjointed and doesn’t flow well. There is some lovely guitar work from Ben Chadwick and Björn Anders switching from bluesy solos to crunchy riffing to traditional metal with ease. ‘Interceptor, Truth Protector’ has a great chorus but is quite stop-start and this again breaks up the flow of the song. ‘Biohazard’ is a definite highlight. Short and catchy with a more menacing feel and some great vocals, avoiding that higher register. ‘Brothers In Arms’ closes out the album and is a fine track with strong performances by all and some lovely proggy riffs.

Overall, there are some fantastic ideas and performances by all the members of the band on ‘Hyperion’ although some of the tracks do feel like they need something different. I found it quite a frustrating listen as these guys can clearly do everything needed for some top notch songs, but for me, just don’t put all of the elements together in the same place. Having said that I did really enjoy ‘Hyperion’ and am still singing the chorus to ‘Executioner’ so it clearly resonated with me.

I’m not sure I would describe On Atlas’ Shoulders as Epic Heavy Metal but they could definitely be on the way.

For all the latest news, reviews, interviews across the heavy metal spectrum follow THE RAZORS'S EDGE on facebook, twitter and instagram.