RayGun Records [Release date 01.10.13]
Welcome to Atom Strange’s world of ‘Hi-Fi Sci-Fi’ where ‘substance, groove, depth and style’ prevail in multi genre format that is rooted in hard rock but pulls towards AOR, metal, prog and even space rock.
Ostensibly a concept album, ‘The Lost Cosmonauts’ deals with a missing Soviet cosmonaut who resurfaces 50 years later, apparently completely unchanged, but though that’s open to question. It’s an interesting concept, but one that is hard to follow without the aid of the lyrics as the story ultimately becomes subsumed by the powerful music.
Rick Dunn is a fine vocalist, albeit very reminiscent of Axl Rose on a decent album full of powerful songs, great playing but nothing startlingly original other than the concept itself.
Being a space related concept album, they open with the ‘Kosmos’ overture, before launching into the suitable titled ‘Space Man, on slice of kick-ass rock. ‘Looking Glass’ is a highlight on which they deftly combine edgy metal with some melodic resolutions and a grungy style outing with Pearl Jam influences. And there’s more of the same on the blistering rock of ‘Believe In Nothing’, while the single ‘I’m Alive’ rocks hard in a Guns N’ Roses vein.
‘Neverwas’ offers contrast with a more laid back arrangement and opens like Pink Floyd, but with the emphasis on a gentle groove and a fine vocal from Rick Dunn full of subtle restraint
The synth-driven instrumental ‘Synestheziac’, benefits from a big enveloping space rock sound, full of Vinnie LaRocca’s humongous drums and Alex Rude’s searing guitar work and excellent production.
There’s a return to the narrative on the melodic orchestration of ‘The Hero Dies Alone Reprise’, on which Rick Dunn sounds like Europe’s Joey Tempest.
‘The Change’, is another well orchestrated dynamic arrangement on which our cosmonaut hero realizes that he’s irrevocably changed. It starts in a reflective mode, but explodes into a full blown rock arrangement and a sudden tempo change.
For all its ‘Hi-Fi Sci-Fi’ pretensions, the great singing, powerful playing and clarity of production, ‘The Lost Cosmonauts’ doesn’t quite achieve its lofty goals as it only occasionally manages to stamp a unique imprint on the music. ***
Review By Pete Feenstra
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Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)
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