A trio of Texans playing Tool-like tunes. Hooray for alliteration and a posthumous hooray for Atomship, the now defunct metal band that only released one album, but released one great album. The scantly known 2004 release, The Crash of ’47, is a surprising album, and in all the right ways, as it amalgamates the typical alt-metal formula and some refreshing twists not often heard from similar bands. Like many of their contemporaries they were melodic and aggressive at the same time and they utilized the soft/loud dynamics that Tool popularized many years ago. However, unlike many of those bands that are still polluting the radio, Atomship didn’t rely on faux-angsty lyrics or unpleasant screaming and, most importantly, they could really play.
Singer Joey Culver has a very good, distinct voice that fits the music well, and his fairly unusual writing style allow him to use vocal deliveries that are far from traditional. Nathan Slade’s guitar work is competent; there aren’t any solos here, but his playing is effective, not unlike that of Tool’s Adam Jones, he compliments what is going on around him. As for the drumming, one word: wow. You’ll be hard-pressed to find many drum performances in modern rock as impressive as Chad Kent’s work on this album; he overpowers everything, completely taking over songs at times with his unusual time signatures and furious footwork; a must-listen for drummers.
As the title implies, as well as some of the song names, these guys clearly have an affection for sci-fi, and this fondness has an affect on the overall feel of the album, giving it a spacious disposition. This definitely adds to the uniqueness of the disc, making it sound like a singular work instead of a collection of tracks; this is the kind of record you have to listen to all the way through, as it makes for a much more gratifying experience. This task is made easier by the fact that there is no real filler here, every track deserves its spot, and there is enough diversity in the songs to keep the listener from getting bored.
The first half of the album contains most of the best moments. “Mothra” is a wonderful slab of progressive metal, from its atmospheric intro to its heavy-riffed explosion and intense climax. “Dragonfly” starts as a pretty standard and catchy rock song until it erupts during its surprisingly thunderous bridge, highlighted by Chad Kent's machine gun drumming. “Withered” is the only ballad on the album, but it doesn’t seem forced like many ballads tend to do. It’s catchy enough that it would feel at home on modern rock radio, and it's a nice change of pace from everything that precedes and follows it. “Agent Orange” is an overt political commentary that sees the return of the prog, in a fashion similar to Tool's "Ticks & Leeches." It goes from a pretty standard opening into a calm middle segment, and then into a pummeling third segment, which is possibly the heaviest part of the album.
The next four tracks have a fairly similar formula. They all feature changes in both tempo and dynamics, while adhering to fairly normal song structures. None of them are bad (with the exception of the out of place and embarrassing intro of "Friends"), nor are they boring, they just don't stand out from the crowd. "Plastic People" closes things out effectively, and is one of the album's more progressive tracks. The verses feel foreboding and the choruses have the urgency that good many closing tracks have, and it all builds to a rousing conclusion in a meter that Meshuggah would approve of.
You can add Atomship to the list of bands that gave this world too little music. It would have been interesting to see in what direction they would go since they were maybe the best of all the Tool wannabes and their potential is clear. This is highly recommended to all fans of hard rock and alternative metal, and especially to fans of the current Australian scene where bands like Karnivool and Cog that have similar progressive leanings. This is one of the finer mainstream rock/metal albums of the last decade.