Atlas’ latest album, “Built To Last,” is a musical journey that sort of bridges the gap between FM and Dream Theater, offering a blend of classic and progressive rock elements. As someone who adores both of those bands, I was surprised that it took me until their third album to discover Atlas, but I’m glad I did.
The band consists of five talented musicians, with Craig Wells on lead vocals, Howie Little on lead guitars, Chris Redfearn on bass guitar, Ryan Briggs on drums, and the keyboardist, James, who shares my surname. Together, they create a sound that’s both familiar and refreshing.
The album kicks off with “All Or Nothing,” a proudly grandiose track with chunky guitar riffs and a hard-hitting solo that showcases the band’s hard rock prowess. “You’re Not Alone” follows with a chorus reminiscent of Bon Jovi, suggesting they’re doing what Bon Jovi should be doing (if they hadn’t made boring crap for decades). “One More Night” is like a slightly heavier version of FM, maintaining a strong sense of hooks and exceptional musicianship.
“Another Heartbreak” is a welcome departure from the typical ballad, with a seriously ’80s sound akin to Danger Danger’s debut. “Tears” serves as the ballad of the album, holding your hand in the eye of an emotional storm with ambitious melodies and heartfelt lyrics. “Unfamiliar Love” explores Dream Theater territory with a keytar solo and a progressive edge.
“Just Like That” is another keyboard-heavy track that delves into the theme of heartbreak, revealing a formula that works well for the band. The three-parter of “Chasing Ghosts,” “Lonely Heart,” and “Closer To The Picture” displays the band’s ability to mix stoicism and grit, with exceptional moments of instrumental synergy.
“Painted Memory” confidently ends the trilogy, while “Bury A Lie” takes a bold step by being heavier than expected and proudly raising its fists in the air.
“The Best Is Yet To Come”, and again it might be about matters of the heart, but it is more than that. It sums the band up.
Atlas have the talent and the ambition to make a real classic. “Built To Last” isn’t that, but it puts them on the map as one to watch.