Atlantis, what a great name for a band. I discovered this band while I was browsing the web. Atlantis was founded by Teknobudd X (Jorge Vasquez) and Ken Jaquess in the 90’s. In the year 1997 this Californian based band released their first self-titled album “Atlantis”. I don’t have this album (yet) so I won’t be able to make comparisons but when I listen to this album I’m sure they have made some progress. This successor has a great production, a crystal clear sound and almost an hour of melodic and symphonic rock music. And as big surprise a UK-style guitar solo of the master Allan Holdsworth himself!
David Bodnar – vocals; Ken Jaquess – Bass; Karl Johnson – guitar; Hank Wicke – drums (“Pray for rain”, “Magnificent desolation”, “The one”, “Hills of time”, “Forest cathedral”); Teknobudd X (Jorge Vasquez) – keyboards; Bob Craft – drums (“Lelune”, “Again”, “Secret realm”, “Oceans to cross”).
Allan Holdsworth – guitar solo on “Oceans to cross”.
The album opens with the title-track “Pray for rain” (13:09) which is also the longest track of this album. The first thing you notice is the crystal clear sound of the recording. This album has a fantastic sound quality. You hear not only the high pitched synths and crystal clear cymbal sounds but also a roaring bass and the deep low of the bass synths. And the music.. this is pure Symphonic Rock! Teknobudd X produces broad symphonic keyboard layers, fat synth solos and delicate piano work. The broad symphonic keyboard sound reminds me of the keyboard systems of Fairlight and PPG. “Pray for Rain” is melodic and bombastic at the same time. This powerful track is like a Cairo song. If you like pure “old-fashioned” symphonic rock you must listen to this album. I would buy this album only for the two long tracks.
In “Magnificent desolation” (4:22) you hear that the band’s music has melody as it’s foundation. In “Lelune” (5:07) the music becomes even more melodic and more relaxed. Not as hectic and bombastic as the first two tracks. David Bodnar can show his qualities as vocalist. Karl Johnson treats us with a melodic guitar solo.
“Again” (1:49) is a short and bombastic instrumental piece which again reminds me of the bombastic music of Cairo and ELP. The next track is called “The one” (6:30) and includes a delicious synth solo. The keyboards are playing a big role in the music of Atlantis but you can also expect some melodic guitar solos.
Like in the openings track, “Hills of time” (5:46) has the bass guitar in the front of the mix. The band comes again with some great vocal melodies. Next is “Secret realm” (4:30) and doesn’t add new adventurous things to the music. The last two songs compensate largely for this. In “Oceans to cross” (4:18) the band gets help from master guitarist Allan Holdsworth. It has been a while, but Allan plays a delicious solo in a style we will associate with his UK period. Need I more to say? And “Forest cathedral” (10:38) is together with the opening track “Pray for rain” (13:09) the highlight of the album. Some of the best melodies are saved for this closing track. The first part with the melodic vocal parts slowly brings us to a keyboard intermezzo which is the introduction to a great ending with bombastic keyboards and a melodic guitar solo.
Atlantis surprised me with this wonderful record which has a great production and amazing sound quality. This you don’t see very often with an independent release. I’m glad Progrock Records picked this album up for a broader distribution. You will not find new or progressive things on this album. But if you like (I do!) keyboard dominated and Symphonic Rock with a lot of melody and power, you will love this album. And lovers of the also American band Cairo, don’t tell me you didn’t know!