Atomic Opera-For Madmen Only (Collison/Warner Bros.) 1994
Yet another Sam Taylor prog-metal band with that distinct Austin (or is it Houston?), Texas sound that gained King's X and Galactic Cowboys a large cult following. As with the other Sam Taylor projects, this cd bares the trademark sound, mixing layered chorus vocals, poetic spiritual lyrics, complex grooves and riffs, and a combination of catchy melody and pummeling guitar crunch. The difference from this cd and most King's X cd is the more aggressive, almost thrash metal tendencies in the guitar riffs, not unlike some Galactic Cowboys. Album opener "Joyride" could cave in the skull of any metalhead, yet at the same time please the prog-fans looking for complexity over heaviness. Other standout tracks are the slow doomy "Archilles' Heel," lead single "I Know Better" and the epic album closer "New Dreams." Found this cd for a mere $4 in a large chain store.
Atomic Opera-Penguin Dust (independant) 1997
1. "Make a God"
Everyone warned me that I would not like this album after I told them how much I enjoyed "For Madmen Only." I was told by several people that it wasn't their best cd and that it was to 'alternative' sounding. On first listen I thought to myself, "this is a really good disc, I don't see what's so 'alternative' about it." I hear more of a Led Zeppelin meets King's X vibe going on here. Hmmm. So, I decided to give it a few more spins before writing anything about it. On the second listen I liked it even more. Granted, 'Penguin Dust' is not nearly as heavy as "Madmen" nor is it as thick and meaty as much of the Galactic Cowboys and King's X material. However, there is something infectious about the acoustic grooves and big bass sounds of 'Penguin Dust.' There is something mesmerizing about the mandolin sounds and catchy song writing. I really like it. Hmmm. Go figure!
Atomic Opera - Alpha & Oranges (Massive Groove Prod.) 1999
This is not an "official" Atomic Opera release, but rather it's a collection of demo songs recorded before "For Madmen Only" CD. The official Atomic Opera web site explains: "The sessions that make up this CD span from 1989 to 1993. These were the years that Atomic Opera was an unknown, unsigned band trying to write music that would take them to a place beyond their rehearsal room and Zelda's nightclub...The tens songs that are chosen to be on this CD tell a story. It is a musical story of a band discovering itself. These ten songs show the progression of a band from its first weeks together...up to the point where it records its first national CD." Despite this fact, if Atomic Opera had released this as their second full length CD, I would never have guessed it was only demo tracks. Despite being demos, all the recordings are very listenable. Many of these tracks have a more metallic sheen than the other Houston bands Atomic Opera are usually lumped with, however there is still melodic groove laden r'n'r. This disc is only available through the band's website, as far as I know. Get a copy before they disappear and become 'rare collectibles' like "For Madmen Only".
Atomic Opera-Gospel Cola (Metal Blade) 2000
1. Jesus Junk (3:28)
A return to the heavier side of Atomic Opera. Musically the band sounds much more like their "Madmen" cd than "Penguin Dust." Either way it's ok by me, as this band is just musically creative and different from most every other band out there. I have heard many people compare this disc to fellow Houston rockers King's X, but there really are few similarities on this disc. Atomic Opera have become an entity unto themselves. Lyrically the band continues to write positive lyrics that are certainly influenced by the Christian faith. Album opener "Jesus Junk" is a great song. Modern Christianity has convinced people that "not touching the unclean thing" or "be ye separate" means buying, wearing, eating, listening to, and watching only "Christian" products. There is NO SUCH THING! The Bible says you shall know them by their love, not by their Christian parody shirt or by their music. Anyone can throw a fish on their car or wear a WWJD t-shirt but it takes a change in your life and Jesus in your heart to be a Christian. Kudos to Atomic Opera for speaking the truth.