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Ultime Atome - Dark Visions

Ultime Atome - Dark VisionsUnlike most ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ manufactured pop artistes, prog musicians spend many years honing their craft before officially announcing their arrival to the world in the form of a CD release.  French band, Ultime Atome, is a case in point; the band has been around for some ten years yet has only just got around to releasing their debut album, Dark Visions.

And what a debut this is.  Just four tracks make up this 55-minute album, the shortest track timed at a tad under the nine-minute mark with the longest running at over 22 minutes.  Whilst a track’s length is not in itself a guarantee of the quality of the music therein (as in the old adage ‘it’s not the size that counts, it’s what you do with it’), it does show ambition and the sort of promise that sets the prog fan’s saliva glands at maximum output.

I’m pleased to be able to tell you that the music lives up to that promise from track one, Meine Liebe which has a dark, Gothic atmosphere about it.  For some strange reason that I can no longer fathom, I detected elements of Arthur Brown on first play, particularly with the vocals (Jean Marc Tesorio).  However, the powerful instrumental aspect teeters on the prog metal side with superb bass (Bruno Vente) and percussion (Patrick Delmas) adding a grungy feel whilst semi-distorted guitar (Walter Ginanneschi) adds menace and crystal clear keyboards (Isabelle Descamps) provide the spooky atmosphere.

The second track, the epic Battlefields, clarifies Ultime Atome’s style.  Isabelle adds backing vocals to Jean’s lead vocal that takes on a distinctive Fish style.  Whilst the vocals have that familiar early Marillion sound, the music also has that ‘Marillion at their best’ (personal opinion) touch.  It is not hard to imagine a live performance with all the theatrics that maybe Musea could capture and release on DVD.  Please.  Top-notch prog!

Eternal Warrior tells of the anguish of the Warrior contemplating his destiny, a theme/story that other bands have covered in the recent past though in this instance it’s not obvious if the ‘warrior’ is a Roman centurion or a generalisation of any mercenary.

The album closes with Dreamland, an ethereal piece initially finishing with a rousing guitar solo.

Ultime Atome is bound to become in demand for festivals and gigs the world over on the basis of strong and desirable debut.  Highly recommended for all prog fans and an absolute must for Fish era Marillion fans.  Bravo!

Jem Jedrzejewski



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