1. Atomic Number 22
2. World Of Contradictions
3. Torn Reality
4. Delusive Skies
5. Time Is Out
6. One Single Night
7. Guardians Of Might
8. Future Of Mankind
9. The Way Of The White Flag
10. Eagleheart* (bonus wersji japońskiej)
Rok wydania: 2016
And it’s done! Great Poland’s Titanium new album has seen the light of
the day- for now only in Japan. The rest of the world needs to arm
itself in patience.. But it’s worth the wait, as the successor of the
debut from the 3 years ago is a major step ahead. Guys made a juicy
piece of power metal in the best melodic wrapping on a veery high,
Let me tell upfront that the making of „Atomic Number 22”, the name of the new Titanium’s album, wasn’t a walk through the park – for some time it’s fate wasn’t certain. Why? Even when putting aside some personal problems (some of the bandmembers lost their close ones) the band was struggling with the vocals. During the recording of this album the previous vocalist decided to change the fronts (!?) leaving the band in a very unpleasant situation (to put it mildly). It is known that in many similar cases events like that are often the downfall of the whole bands, the same fate could happen to Titanium but as the name suggests- they endured, steel hard. Something unpredictable happened, as the brain of the band Karol Mania (known from his activities in Pathfinder) made a proposal to bear the microphone responsibilities to an ukrainian vocalist of Sunrise.
Konstantin Naumenko decided to join the band as a full time member of Titanium, and the joined effort of the band and his vocals exceeded the highest expectations. New voice brought way more power and energy, drastically outperforming the capabilities of the previous vocalist, while also boosting the stage presence of the band live (I checked it personally). Konstantin isn’t the only new person in the Titanium squad – another, but not as new addition to the band is Szymon „Saimon” Szydłowski, who replaced the less lively Paweł Gębka.
In this refreshed squad Karol & company finished the „Atomic Number 22”. What they created can be called a metal masterpiece, the whole album is awe-inspiring. It just rocks! The first thing that gets a notice is the fact, that the music and composition is on a way different level than any similar artist in the country, there is no insular mennerism present here. Many bands from Poland (especially the few we have here that play heavy/power metal) sound similar and home-grown (in the negative meaning of this word). It cannot be said about Titanium, or any other project where Pathfinder bandmembers are present. The new album made a huge gap between Titanium and any competition they have in Poland, bringing the band to a level where rivalization with the world class power metal bands is very possible!
The release is provided with an explosive, energetic album cover showing a massive space explosion, which reveals a familiar symbol (Titanium’s insignia). The final effect is very impressive, perfectly shows the overall character of the music and it’s power. The dynamic graphic of „Atomic Numver 22” brings me a relief, as the picture „embellishing” the European’s debut album was a sin against God/Satan (Your pick), yielding the most ambivalent feelings- thankfully the sins from the past aren’t repeated here, making a room for a better fitting album cover. Even inside the booklet we can find a few surprises, as every composition was armed with a different artwork, that suits the subject of each song very well.
This solution, while certainly more expensive and time-consuming, makes this release way more interesting and complete.
Lyrics on „Atomic Number 22” aren’t explicit, they touch many different subjects, more or less important. We can find references to some very real problems, social phenomenons („World of Contradictions”), passing of the time, or more exactly the moments where You realize that the time is already gone („Time is Out”). But there’s also a room for some less serious subjects in „Delusive Skies” or returning to gray reality after intensive concerts in „Torn Reality”. A few tracks have a hidden meaning, which is best shown in the humorous „Guardians of Might” – the real meaning behind this song is an obsessive video game player being disappointed with an expansion to his favourite game.
What about the music You might ask? Well, in that regard we have a very colorful, diverse, intense and explosively energetic album. „Atomic Number 22” is a real bomb in the power metal world. It’s a high-calorie, solid feast for fans of this subgenre. Premiere material is extremely melodic, elemental and easy to digest. Tracks are complex, have lots of ideas, but even with that variety the composition makes a coherent whole. Every track knows it’s place on the album, and there are no meaningless fillers here. The sound in general is mostly traditional (there are no modern, out of touch ideas), it isn’t aggresive, heavy or challenging. But it doesn’t mean it’s soft, compositions have it’s weight, carefully balanced power that amkes this release powerful and unique. Used ideas aren’t trivial, just though-out, polished in every detail and definitely on the spot.
Similarities to the debut? Present, but the variety of new and different solutions shows the follow-up in a different, better light. Songs are way more mature and varied in sound. What’s important, even when limited by the borders of the subgenre, new Titanium’s album presents itself as a fresh, original piece of work, which is a great asset. The improvements are seen on every step, in every area. The most prominent progress is seen in vocals, when comparing both albums, the gap is colossal! Any comparison is an insult to the new vocalist (ok, this one was added by the guy translating the review).
Konstantin made an excellent job here, his professional, characteristic vocals made the final results sound more expressive. There are absolutely no shortcomings or flaws in this area. Quite the opposite- the new voice of Titanium perfectly feels the climate of this music, it is impossible not to notice, especially when Konstantin goes high with his vocals- he does so very often and naturally, it sounds very easy for him. In a way his varied vocals bring me the memories of Daniel Heiman from Lost Horizon. In both bands the vocalists sing very intensive material, varied in an idea „the more rich the better”. It can be compared to an instrument that doesn’t just play it’s sounds, but constantly (Konstantin?) adds something more, which only helps in the final result.
The instrumental parts also don’t bring anything disappointing, there’s a lot going on the album at once. The most prominent are the professional guitar parts, some solos hit like a storm, but they’re thought out and the riffs are mature and complex as well, the melodic flow is unbreakable. Fast tempo preponderates on the album, but this doesn’t stop the musicians from bringing some atmospherical elements to the sound. Solid drumwork is the fundament for the intense guitarplay. Bass guitar also fills every possible gap with some tasty sounds, which is the most hearable in the fast „World of Contradictions”, where the main riff is finished with a bass „dessert”. Tempo is set by a crazy drummer Filip Gruca, who plays energetic and predatory parts with a lot of strength put into them. In that area I’m missing some more imagination and finesse, present in Rolf Pilve’s play in Stratovarius, or Pedro Tinello’s from Almah. Filip preffers to deliver a metal „smash”, lively and powerful hits, but I don’t think anyone would mind if we heard some more diverse and unconventional drum patterns in the future.
Any space left on the album was filled with intensive orchestrations and varied keyboard parts, that create the climatic background to the sound, while also carrying the main theme and melody through the track. In that regard it (sometimes) sounds like Pathfinder, which should be obvious since Karol is present in both bands. However using those elements in a different approach to the general power metal stylistics gives the music a much different character, but with an equally original nature.
Tracks are filled with lively energy, full of not only different instrumental solutions, but also those of a more compositional and structural nature. Songs are packed with interesting ideas, rhytmical jewels, accents and pauses. Some more climatic elements are also present, like the ending of „Torn Reality”, kept in mid tempo, or the intro to „Future of Mankind”. Every track has a characteristic melody, catchy motive that helps to stuck to a listener’s brain for a long time. It can be seen in the previously available „Time is Out” on the music video. Don’t think that’s the only melodic accent on the album, there are many more on the cd and it’s hard to pick a favourite.
Thanks to that the exploration of the album isn’t a „path through the pain”, and it’s easy to digest. Every new listening brings some new element to attention, that was hidden during the previous listen. There is a lot happening in the songs, so boredom is impossible, even the longest (not only on the album, but in band’s disposal in general) „Future of Mankind” doesn’t bring a sleepy atmosphere. The material here is consistent, but isn’t unvarying or unrelieved. The track placement on the album also helps that, it greatly helps to diversify the sound. What’s also important- the album just „flies” away fast, but the running time is standard. It’s just an another proof that the album is musically attractive, lively and complete. It leaves a great deal of hunger for more! But for now we can only replay the album. I can add from my experience that even after multiple listens „Atomic Number 22” is still charming.. Can this album ever bore me?
From time to time it is possible to hear influence of other musicians. The title track at one point sounds like Queen to me, and the verse of „Future of Mankind” has a climate similar to Joe Satrani’s music, but covered in a cosmic and intense wrapping. In the final of this song we can hear Konstantin going solo, even alone he can deliver a killing material. In the slower „Torn Reality” there’s a more heavy metal climate from the 80s. It is possible to hear a distinct note of Mercyful Fate, when Konstantin vocals and the main riff are connected. Outro of this song is finished with sounds of nature, rain and storm. It’s a peaceful pause between this and the explosive „Delusive Skies”, and there are more jewels like that- in „World of Contradictions” the racing sound is suplemented by the sounds of a flying jet/bullet. In „Time is Out” we have a clock, brilliant „Delusive Skies” is packed with orchestrations with a syphonic metal feel to it, and the elevated intro to „Atomic Number 22” explodes with sudden Konstantin’s high vocals. „One Single Night” also leaves the listener satisfied with it’s everchanging tempo and shifts in climate- awesome!
The second part of „Curse of the White Flag” also brings my attention, being a continuation of the adventure of Primoz (he even speaks during the narration), this time in „The Way of the White Flag”. It is fast and energetic, just like the previous part. It is full of climatic gems that soften the fast tempo and lacks any weird, unnecessary additions.
The final dessert is (as usual in the japanese versions of albums) a bonus track. Just like before Titanium covered a power metal classic, previously Sonata Arctica’s Fullmoon. This time they tried to play „Eagleheart” from the Stratovarius classics. Effect? Complete success – Titanium’s version isn’t a blind copy of the original- Karol & company tried a more energetic approach, finishing the album with a spectacular firework. But don’t envy the japanese people- the rest of the world will get something tasty too, but I’ll leave it to You, You’ll get it when the time is right (fans of German power metal will love it).
What else can be said? The music itself doesn’t need any help- it’s perfectly capable to speak for itself. The only thing it needs is a good promotion and support of the people who can show it to a wider audience (especially outside Poland). I’m confident that „Atomic Number 22” would cause a great chaos on the world market of Power metal. The material here casts a shadow over the recent activities of bands like Sonata Arctica. Albums like that shouldn’t be ignored by metalheads, especially the power metal fans. Karol and his band made a masterpiece- don’t believe me? Look it up, wait carefully for the european premiere and prove me wrong. And I warn You- it’s addictive..
P.S. As we never had an outstanding material like that in Poland the score should also be something special. Many will probably say I’m not objective, but I’m sure about excellence of this album, so the score stands as it is!
Originally written by Marcin Magiera, poorly translated to English by Liquor King in like 3 hours. For free. F#$k my life