Releasing your debut album in an era where no-one supposedly buys albums anymore is admirable enough, but when you turn said debut album into an ambitious 65 minute long concept album, then you get extra brownie points. The concept album and progressive music go hand-in-hand, so it’s no surprise that Helsinki based Atom Works are a progressive rock and metal band.
The Life Of Spice – great play on words – takes the concept of a centuries old secretive group (known as Atom Works) who investigate tales of incredible, near-immortal people with powerful abilities. One of whom being the titular Spice. Atom Works set out to hinder the aims of warmongers/governments who intend to weaponize these super-humans, and it’s up to five Atom Works members to convince the world that these super-humans are in fact their protectors. Kind of like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen maybe? Or at least that’s my own take.
The concept could be the strongest, most intriguing one ever, but would ultimately fall flat on its face if the music didn’t back it up. Thankfully the music on The Life Of Spice is as strong as the concept. Zsolt Szilagyi on keyboards is crucial to the band, his flurries, fills and atmospheric playing gives Atom Works a fantastic bedrock to build upon. On an album full of expansive tracks and intricate playing, it seems strange to highlight a short piano-driven instrumental as the standout moment. But the two minute “Time In Eyes” is exactly that; Szilagyi is allowed to flex his muscles on his keys while sole guitarist Kasper Rosqvist noodles away over the soaring melodies. It works well on its own, but also as a short intro into the towering seven minute long “Perennial’s Prince”.
British vocalist Steve Baker has quite a job on his hands with The Life Of Spice, as well as handling the vocal duties, he is also responsible for the concept and the lyrics. All that time and effort, and then some douche with a keyboard happens to mention that an instrumental is his personal favourite. Sorry man! Baker’s vocals are full of life and have a fantastic storytelling element to them, listening to the title-track, it’s easy to picture the characters on the train ride where most of the album is set.
The Life Of Spice is obviously a labour of love for the Helsinki based outfit. Great care and attention has gone into the finished product, and such endeavour should be rewarded by the listener taking an hour or so out of their life and consuming it in one swoop.
The Life Of Spice is available September 6th