Allen, Russell - Atomic soul 3.5/5

Reviewed: 6-10-05


1. Blackout
2. Unjustified
3. Voodoo hand
4. Angel
5. The distance
6. Seasons of insanity
7. Gaia
8. Loosin' you
9. Saucey Jack
10. We will fly
11. Atomic soul

This is Symphony X singer Russell Allenís first solo CD and it is an unmitigated success. For some reason solo albums very rarely seem to live up to expectations. They are often poor imitations of the band the artist comes from or are totally different but not very good. Allen manages to successfully walk the tightrope of sounding like himself and his band but, yet, making a CD that his band would never make.

Compared to the complexity of Symphony X, this is a very straight forward CD. It comes straight from the 70s, a CD of pure, straight ahead hard rock. Influences of bands such as Rainbow, Deep Purple and Foreigner can be heard here. The star here, of course, is Allenís voice. And it sounds great. He showed more of his gritty side on Symphony Xís latest CD, 'The odyssey' and shows it even more so on this solo CD. Most of the tracks feature a gritty, throaty, emotional Allen ripping through the tracks with a voice that few can match. While Allenís singing is the calling card, every track on this CD ranges from above average to excellent. There are gritty, uptempo tracks like "Blackout" and "Unjustified", a nice ballad, "The distance", a couple of tracks which do sound like Symphony X, "We will fly" and the orchestrated ďGaiaĒ. There is also a track, "Loosiní you", which could easily have been on one of Foreignerís earliest CDs. The band is excellent and includes, among others, Symphony X bandmates Michael Romeo and Michael Pinnella, plus Stratovatius keyboardist Jens Johansson.

This is a really successful solo CD which is done exactly how solo CDs should be done. It is different from Symphony X and, yet, doesnít stray so far away that the bandís fans wonít be interested. The singing is powerful and emotional; Allen didnít just mail this CD in, he really wanted to make it good. The band is very good, as is the intentionally raw production. It canít be easy for a member of a band like Symphony X to maintain a string appeal to his fans while not sounding too much like his band, but Allen has done that in a masterful manner.




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