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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Atkins / May Project


Review by Gary Hill

This is quite a cool set. The group is Al Atkins (the original lead singer of Judas Priest) and Paul May (musician extraordinaire). They have released three albums together so far and all but one song (I’m ignoring the two unlisted tracks) here are taken from those discs. I’ve reviewed all three of them so the track reviews are copied from those or adapted for use here for the sake of consistency. I think this works well as a play from start to finish experience. Given that it’s a compilation, that says a lot. There is a bonus DVD here, but I can’t get it to play on any of my players. It might just be a problem with my copy. Still, it’s a bonus, the CD is worth getting whether the DVD works or not.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 3 at

Track by Track Review
Act 1

Unlisted Track 1

Starting with the sound of a needle on a record, this comes in a bit like very old Judas Priest. It’s a short instrumental fanfare.

Here Comes the Rain
Basically a power ballad, this is quite proggy in a lot of ways. It’s also very classy. It does get quite heavy as it continues.
Enslaved To Love
The sounds that open this are quite mean and metallic. The cut is quite heavy, quite dark and yet very modern in texture.
The Shallowing
A killer metal jam opens this. Then it powers from there into an even more screaming arrangement. The vocals come in over this killer swirl of riffing.
Bitter Waters
Acoustic guitar starts this, and the vocals come in over the top of this sound. Then it powers out to a slow moving, and rather blues inspired hard rocking metal vibe. It drops back down the mellower territory for the next vocals. The cut alternates between mellower movements and harder rocking ones and is a killer number. The guitar solo section really shines.
World at War
There is a dramatic introduction that gives way to some pounding, powerful heavy metal. This is very much an epic metal styled piece, with the emphasis on the metal end of that equation. I love the vocal hooks and the guitar soloing. It’s a real stomper. The closing bit is dramatic and very potent.
Act 2
Dream Maker
This sounds so much like old school Judas Priest that it’s crazy. This is great. It’s got some more killer guitar soloing.
Valley of Shadows
This is a dramatic and powerful metal ballad. As cool as this tune is, though, it’s a bit overlong.
Harder They Fall
There’s a killer riff and metal groove driving this monster.
Theatre of Fools
There’s really no Priest in the mix here. Instead we get a great modern epic metal sound that’s incredibly cool. Without question this is the best track on the first album. It gets taken through several different sections and yet never crosses into Judas Priest like territory.
Whisper to the Wind
This starts with a dramatic and powerful ballad-like movement. That section holds it for a while with some great vocal work and tasty musical arrangements. It powers out into a rather progressive metal like movement for the more powered up section. This is just so cool. It’s also an epic length piece, landing at over twelve and a half minutes. It’s epic in scope, too, conveying a whole universe of sounds in one cohesive and coherent track. This is mellow through a lot of its time, but it also rocks out really well. It has some particularly meaty melodic metal guitar soloing. This one is worth the price of admission all by itself.
In the Air Tonight (bonus track)
I would have never thought of turning this Phil Collins tune into a metal track. Listening to this version, it seems so obvious, though. Don’t get me wrong, I prefer the stylistic atmosphere of the original. However, this is pretty amazing.
Unlisted Track 2
This is essentially a revisit of the first cut of the disc. It makes for a great bookend.
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