You know him as the voice of American progressive metal band SYMPHONY X. Russell Allen is the gritty DIO-esque voice that gives the New Jersey band an extra punch. "Russell Allen's Atomic Soul" proves that Mr. Allen knows a thing or two about '70s hard rock, and goddamn does he ever do it justice! Everything from the fat vintage guitar sound to the blues-drenched vibes to Allen's convincingly soulful delivery says 1970s. Allen offers more than just his golden pipes and songwriting skills; he also contributes several guitar, bass, and keyboards parts. Also contributing are Michael Romeo and Michael Pinella (SYMPHONY X), Brendan Anthony (SIN RIVER), Robert Nelson (PHANTOM'S OPERA), Larry Salvatore (SIN RIVER), Iceberg (MURDER 1), and Jens Johansson (STRATOVARIUS).
Folks, this one's got it all. It's not an exaggeration to say that you'll hear the influence of DEEP PURPLE, RAINBOW, FOREIGNER, LED ZEPPELIN, BAD COMPANY, KANSAS, and a slew of others that I'm probably forgetting. This is no half-assed attempt at paying tribute to one's heroes either; "Atomic Soul" is a '70s classic rock avalanche. The rough-edged stomp of "Blackout" and "Unjustified" get the ball rolling before the album really opens up and a vast array of influences spill out. The verse on "Angel" boasts a serious BAD COMPANY delivery with Allen doing his best Paul Rodgers impression before transforming into Joe Lynn Turner on the chorus. An even smoother and melodious (AOR-style) approach is taken on "The Distance", marked by Allen's soul burn crooning and the introduction of an acoustic guitar. "Seasons of Insanity" sounds like the Dio and Turner RAINBOW lineups collaborated. Mid-period LED ZEPPELIN and early RAINBOW cross paths on "Gaia", while it's all bluesy swagger and cock struttin' on "Voodoo Hand", "Losin' You" and "Saucey Jack". Progressive rock is the order of the day on the eight-minute KANSAS-sounding "We Will Fly", a tune that features the beautiful piano work of Michael Pinella. ELP synth lines pepper the three-minute "Atomic Soul", a no-nonsense rocker and the perfect album closer.
I'm not surprised that Allen crafted a strong '70s-inspired album. I'm just amazed at how flawlessly he pulled it off. Good stuff.