For many people the band Atrium doesn't ring a bell at all. Atrium started late 2003 in Portugal. The two friends for live Rui Godinho (lead vocals, keyboards) and Carlos Martins (acoustic guitar, bass, bass pedals, vocals) decided to play music inspired by bands as Pink Floyd, Pendragon, Genesis, Yes and Camel. After having several line-up changes, the band attained its current line-up with the incorporation of Pedro Cravo (guitars, vocals) in 2004 and SÚrgio Campos (drums, percussion) in 2009.
Atrium's latest studio album 2011 was released early 2011 and according to the band it's an 'ambitious symphonic and progressive rock album'. They also wrote that they intend to capture a place in the global scene of progressive rock. Well, I'm not sure if that is going to happen that soon, because musically they don't achieve the same quality level as the above-mentioned bands that inspired them. The music on 2011 mostly moves in the direction of neo-progressive rock music influenced by native folk music from time to time. This combination works out very well on the seven tracks of the album. Especially the acoustic guitar parts provide for a traditional touch of folklore. The neo-prog style of 2011 strongly tends towards the music recorded in the eighties by bands as Marillion, Pallas, IQ and Pendragon. This neo-prog style can mostly be heard in the guitar and keyboards parts. Fine solos on the guitars and synthesizers indicate that the musicians master their instruments. However, they lack a strong lead singer. The singing of Rui Godinho is the weakest link in the band's music. That's a bit sad because occasionally he takes the music to a lower quality level also caused by his accent. A better singer who has full command of the English pronunciation would certainly lift the music of this talented band to a higher level.
Most of the songs on 2011 aren't bad at all. Listen for instance to tracks as Citizen Of The World, Story Of A Great Man and Like You (One Step At The Time). Especially on these pieces they show they're talented enough to record excellent albums in the future. But once again, they need to have a lead singer who sings without an accent or in his native language. Despite the weak vocals the album gave me a positive feeling. I'm sure that people who fancy fine neo-progressive rock music made by the afore-mentioned bands will enjoy some fine moments on 2011, just like I did.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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