Out January 6
After stumbling upon Atomic Freak and their cracking single When It All Goes Down thanks to Groover I made it my personal mission to track down the band’s upcoming album Nuclear Meltdown and cleverly did so in the guise of writing a review. This job does have its perks…
These guys ripped me a new bunghole after just one song, with the vocalist bearing more than a passing sonic resemblance to our own late, great Bon Scott.
I kid you not, this could very well be long-lost but now found secret Accadacca recordings.
But they’re not. And the best thing for me was that in all of Atomic Freak’s press releases and teasers, not one mention was made of the vocalist and his uncanny similarities.
Which shows either the band does not know who Bon Scott is/was OR they want to market their music purely by their own merit rather than drafting new listeners to the team solely because the singer may or may not have what were once thought of as once in a lifetime vocal skills.
My money is on the latter. I’m too proud of an Aussie to concede that there is a possibility anyone out there has not heard of AC/DC.
Anyway, enough of my ramblings, let’s listen to some rock…
Opening with Shakin’/Shaken, Atomic Freak let all barrels loose from the get-go with a blues-infused guitar-led intro paving the way for those familiar sounding vocals to take centre stage and from there on it’s welcome to blues rock city baby.
I am going to do my best to steer clear of any more innuendo or comparisons on the vocal front because Atomic Freak deserve credit in their own right for producing music of this calibre. Already I have a strong feeling this is going to be amongst my top albums for 2024, and it hasn’t even broken a sweat yet!
There’s enough beer-drenched sleaze in this music to satiate an outback bar and brothel. Add some swagger and an undeniable thirst for old-fashioned rock and pillaging roll, and you might just earn the right to join what will be a rapidly growing queue of people wanting to board the Atomic Freak train to damnation. (sorry, couldn’t resist…)
Latest single Light The Fuse is next and after a tasty guitar riff to introduce the beats we are off, back with a one-way ticket on the rock express.
Think every decent rock band of the last 50 years and then take strands of DNA from each before bonding them with whisky, and you get a sense of Atomic Freak.
A wicked guitar solo midway through Light The Fuse speeds up where most would finish and whoever it is whipping his fingers around the fretboard, the man has just earned himself a beer. Or ten.
This is catchy pub rock and would be out of this world to witness live. Which is exactly where I am inside my own mind at this point, so excuse me while I savour the moment…
Atomic rolls up next courtesy of a nice drum roll that soon gets swamped by yet another fat blues-based guitar riff that stops suddenly and draws back to the most blues-inspired track, yet that has a familiar-sounding riff coursing through its veins that I am betting is just coincidental.
But even if it isn’t there is enough disparity here to add enough degrees of separation to silence the doubtful.
More guitar solos and punchy drums have me moving in my chair – not dancing – and I would defy anyone with blood pumping through their veins to not give way to at least one limb bouncing subconsciously to the beat.
When It All Goes Down is next, but I shall leave this write-up until the end, where I shall cheat somewhat by recycling my initial single review. But it kind of wraps everything up anyway, so is probably best suited for the closing stanza.
Home Town slides (literally with slide guitar) to life next, a slow grooving swagger that reeks of cheap vodka and cigarettes. The vocals are slowed down perfectly in time with the music, and you can almost smell the stale stench of blues dripping from every angle.
It has brief moments of built-up tension that almost threaten to turn this into a hard rock number, but each time the upward swing borders on expansion the soothing guitar sounds pull them back into line and back on course.
For The Money fires up with another tasty riff that is compounded by a second guitar and pulsating drum pattern in an almost teasing fashion amid dualling instruments.
But, of course, guitar wins the battle – and pretty quickly – imparting its considerable DNA throughout the track to produce more of the same but with subtle variations that add enough freshness to keep the party lively.
But on the off chance you were starting to feel all blues rocked out, the wizard on guitar throws down another riff spectacular that forces your eyes closed in a subliminal effort to actually feel the music.
I kid you not, this shit is that fucken good.
Ride of Your Life starts, fittingly, with the ominous sounds of a big block Harley engine roaring to life, but it soon meets stern opposition as the drums get a workout in a beat that can only be designed to mimic the unmistakable rumbling only a Harley-Davidson can offer.
And what a ride it has been thus far for the listener. Leather, lace, booze, sleaze and debauchery all neatly wrapped in the driving mouth of guitar-infused rock. May the ride never end.
Win Or Lose fires up with a few quick high-hat bursts before old mate on the guitar resumes his deal with the devil and sets about paying his dues in sweat.
I wish I knew the names of whoever it is making all of these sounds blasting so effortlessly from my speakers because I would track every one of them down and make them play for me until I can’t take any more.
As if he heard my shallow promises, my new mate on guitar taunts me with yet another dazzling solo and by now, I get the feeling he is just taking the piss. No-one can enjoy smothering every track with love juice this much.
Nuclear Meltdown closes the album, and I honestly wish there were at least ten more songs to go.
My one trepidation as I approached the final song was the possibility Atomic Freak would take the soft way out of Hell and send us packing with the obligatory ballad, but these guys haven’t let me down yet, and they ain’t about to now!
This track has all of the rock intensity as the first, and you get the sense Atomic Freak could write music like this for fun.
Which is another attribute highly in their favour on this album. You can almost smell the band having fun on each song. Either that or they could fake a good orgasm.
Which is precisely what Atomic Freak have given my ears. A good, old-fashioned sonic orgasm.
Here is where I insert the aforementioned review for When It All Goes Down, and by reading this you kind of get a feel for my gravitation towards Atomic Freak from the very first listen.
Citing their influences as AC/DC, Aerosmith and Judas Priest, Atomic Freak have the right credentials to be a hard rocking outfit, and as soon as the track When It All Goes Down kicks in with sultry bass and dirty guitars it becomes instantly obvious these guys pay strict homage to their influences.
But it’s when the vocal kick in that things really heat up. The singer is the closest to Bon Scott I have heard EVER – and I worked with the world’s premiere AC/DC tribute band ACCADACCA for 5 years!
Rather than focus on this one obvious strong point, Atomic Freak continue to explore the complete rock spectrum, harnessing strong elements of blues through the driving guitar play, with sound effects such as screeching cars added haphazardly to great effect.
This music is fantastic in its own right, but when you consider the path from initial planning to execution, it becomes all the more special.
This has lashings of blues, rock and hard rock in tantalizingly teasing commodities and shoots straight from the hip from its first breath to it’s last.