The CHAINMAIL section reviews bands that were proactive enough to e-mail me directly. Here at Cerebral Metalhead, initiative is rewarded.
To commemorate the final day of my trip to California's East Bay, I bring you The Atomic Bomb Audition, a young band outta Oakland. Metal dudes know the city best as the birthplace of Testament, Dystopia, Sleep and Neurosis. The Atomic Bomb Audition sounds like none of them. The band doesn't sound like anybody in particular, really, but they are surely children of the Patton aesthetic -- fluent in free jazz, film soundtracks, modern art music and doom metal, and intent on finding a conference space for all of them to meet. It ain't smiles and handshakes the whole way through, but there's a whole weather system operating inside the band's second album, Light Will Remain.
Droning sub-bass tones introduce Light Will Remain by quashing the promise of the album title, and leads to the killer Today Is the Day-style rager, "Copernicus: Apogee." It's the most consciously metal track on the album and a bit of a feint, considering the more abstract pastures expanding just beyond it. "Copernicus: Perigree" shoots Crazy Horse and Kayo Dot off on a lengthy space ride, and if the line "No one doubts the stars / Close the light, leave it inside / This constellation had a dream tonight" is a bit po-faced to swallow a cappella, it gets rammed down just fine by the psychedelic thunderdoom that follows.
Rare for your average genre-facile metal band, The Atomic Bomb Audition works in an overarching cohesion to even its most macaronic creations. I'm most stoked on "We Speak to the Revelator," an expansive audio tour through multiple big sky countries: the treeless expanses of midwestern emo, Mogwai's twinkling nights, twangy U.S. Christmas space dust and bits of death metal's smoke-choked air, all wrapped up in a haze of reverb and coalescing in an inspired major-key ending (THERE's that album title)! Does the gamelan and violin interlude that follows add much to the overall impact of the album? No, but it's a haunting and unexpected palette cleanser before gargantuan closer "Reseda: Books of Blood." Bits of heavy metal shrapnel and white noise debris get sucked into the oblong orbit of that world-swallowing beast of a track. I gotta see it performed live before I die.