Atlas Drugged is a clever little record from a band that continues to grow in both musical ability and musicality. The beauty of Look What I Did is their music doesn’t come off as complex as it actually is, so even the casual music fan may find themselves rocking out to this. Before the release of Atlas Drugged there was a line-up change in the band, and bassist Chris Bradley moved to guitar, Jake Omen (ex-Year of Desolation) and Ty Coughlin (ex-L.A.O.) joined on drums and bass respectively. I thought this would change their random, silly and hyper sound; but now instead they posses the ability to sound like Cynic, Hank Williams III, Meshuggah, (The) Melvins, Lightning Bolt, Radiohead, 311, Stolen Babies, and The Dillinger Escape Plan; and can do this throughout the course of one song without feeling like you’re hitting shuffle on your iPod every 15 seconds.
The first thing that stands out about this record are the lyrics. Barry (the vocalist) takes smart-ass to a new level of intelligence with his political, philosophical and social satire dryer than my martinis (Note: My martinis are straight gin in a glass that at one point in time had an olive in it). Sometimes the lyrics feel like they could fit into a Monty Python skit or on a Dead Kennedys record. Take the “Serf Song,” for example: played in a dark surf punk style, the song is about how governments are forcing the common man into a mental state similar to that of a serf (an agricultural laborer bound under the feudal system to work on his lord’s estate in the middle ages). “…They see you, inspect you, dissect you, inject you in a test tube, and dress you to comply.” The track “I’m Majoring in Psychology” is about how the average college student doesn’t view school as a chance to further their intellectual growth but instead view it as PCU or Animal House and spend their parent’s money getting fucked beyond all measure. “…Gimme some of that, don’t make me stick my head up to get some of your attention!, books…. Check em out!, books, CHECK, THEM, OUT, let’s spend our parents money, let’s spend that money good, let’s go to college, everybody, can go to college, that means it matters a whole lot, show your work or else you cheated.”
aThe tone and mix on this album is fantastic! Every instrument has its own place but also adds to the other instruments. The guitar tones are rough and dirty when they want to be and light and dreamy when they need to be. Unlike Dream Theater the guitar solos on this record really stand out because Bradley isn’t sitting there thinking, “Hey, look at me, see these scales, you can’t play them like that” and doing unnecessary tapping or sweeping but instead plays more like George Harrison and is thinking “Hey, just a little of this, and a pinch of that, yeah it’s done” and instead tastefully adding just enough to have the solo unique but still work well with what the rest of the band is doing.
Ty and Jake are kicking like Wayne Rooney on every track which makes this a great record to be played in a car or out of your home theater system. My personal favorite track on this album would have to be “Baby Darwins” because of it’s clever song writing. The groove from the chorus into the verse is the band at the top of their game. The song’s ended has a slow build starting off quite happy and ending up sounding like there are fighter pilots flying directly overhead in all directions. In conclusion, buy the fucking album, it’s spinach for your aural receptors.
By: Eitan Prouser
When i first heard of Devil Doll, all i could think of was Coin Operated Boy by the Dresden Dolls. After listening to their masterpiece Dies Irae, i was almost ready to castrate myself for having wronged them so. While the vocals made me think of cheesy horror movies, this truly is a marvel of an album. It comes off more as a soundtrack than an album sometimes, it really feels like a story and an adventure. It takes you through a whole range of emotions and feelings. There really is nothing else on the market quite like this. It takes the whole idea of an orchestral rock band to a level beyond all reckoning. Some would be tempted to call this a prog band, but I believe that would be incorrect.
The overall sound of this album makes it very clear very quickly that Mr. Doctor, the mastermind behind Devil Doll, takes a great deal of influence from old horror movies. The instruments give that feeling, as do the vocals. The vocals are Sprech Stimme or Sprechgesung. This style basically consists of talking with different inflections to express different feelings. It is not truly sung but spoken in a bizarre way. This style was used a great deal by Arnold Schoenberg at the dawn of the 20th century and has not been utilized that much since. Honestly, this style may be the biggest downfall of the album, but it fits the overall style quite well. It may be an acquired taste to some, but it drew me in completely when I heard them for the first time. The first vocals are in Part 2 and are in fact Norina Radovan, a soprano and the only other vocalist on the album, singing “Oyez Oyez” imploring everyone to listen. The contrast between these voices causes a fascinating dynamic that truly sticks with you.
The actual instrumentation is fascinating. Mr. Doctor is on vocals and backing him up there is drum kit, guitar, bass, keyboard, piano, violin, pipe organ, cello, double bass, and accordion. Apart from being an eclectic bunch of instruments, it is some of the most epic music I have ever heard. There is a moment in Part 5 where the guitars play a note that is so powerful that the first time I heard it I was almost knocked over. It is the only time I have heard a note that rivaled the spine tingling Dimebag harmonics at the end of Pantera’s “Cemetery Gates”. The contrast of rock and classical creates an eerie dynamic that bands like TSO or ELO wish they could accomplish. The orchestration trades off with the rock band, sometimes creating a feel of two bands, but when they all play together it becomes a force to be reckoned with. There are moments of cheesy horror movie style playing, Part 1 is the perfect example of this, and later in the album there are sections that are even reminiscent of modern Djent music. The range of these musicians is really baffling.
Overall there is not much left to say but that you need to listen to it to understand. No review could do it justice, and no words can fully capture it. If a picture is worth 1000 words than this album should have a library dedicated to it. The imagery in the lyrics, many of which are pieces of poems by Edgar Allen Poe as well as others, is incredible and the musicianship is just mind boggling. It is very hard to get your hands on an actual copy of this cd, but if you can you will not regret it. This album is by far my most treasured album in my collection.