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4 stars After eight years away from the studio, French keyboard player Vivien Lalu and his project Lalu have returned with an impressive new lineup and an even more impressive album in the form of Atomic Ark. Featuring Martin LeMar (Mekong Delta), Mike LePond (Symphony X), Simone Mularoni (DGM), and Virgil Donati (Planet X) as band members, as well as guest musicians like Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) and Jens Johansson (Stratovarious), Atomic Ark is the product of top-notch players, and the songwriting is strong enough to make the album feel even greater than the sum of its parts.

Rather than relying on otherworldly technicality and mind-bending scale runs to show the worth of these musicians, Atomic Ark's main focal point is on well-crafted compositions, detailed songwriting, and strong melodies. Tracks like "War on Animals", "Momento", and "Deep Blue" all clock in at under four minutes and feature extremely melodic hooks, but intricate musical details keep things feeling progressive and interesting. For a prog metal release, Atomic Ark is certainly on the catchier side of things, but a song like the twenty-minute-long "Revelations" proves that Lalu isn't content with just sounding like a melodic metal band.

Even at its most straightforward and melodic, Atomic Ark features clever drum fills and captivating keyboard flourishes that become extremely rewarding during repeat listens. Lalu's music just reeks of classy professionalism, and fans of bands like Anubis Gate, Dream Theater, Ayreon, and Cloudscape should find plenty to enjoy from Atomic Ark. Let's just hope we don't have to wait eight years for another album!

Report this review (#1100598)
Posted Thursday, December 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Lalu is a prog metal band who release two albums since now. The name of the band is take from the musician's name Vivien Lalu, he is more of a guest musician and composer than playing in a single band, working with some great bands from metal zone like Shadrane or with the german musician Hubi Meisel. Second album was released in 2013 named Ark after almost 8 years silence from this band. Another impressive line up with bass plaer from Symphony X - Mike LePond, guitaristSimone Mularoni from DGM, excellent omnipresent drumer Virgil Donati, Martin LeMar with vocal duties from Tomorrow's Even and now in Mekong Delta and of couse Vivien Lalu on keybords, so a super group. The album, musically is not something new, but is very well produce and played, creating on some pieces a atmopsphere hard to describe in words, you must listen to convinced is great. The progressive metal is on every track, good chops and time signatures, delivering a solid metal album. The musicianship is tight and awesome. Each instrument sound crystal clear. Something to mention is that while all the music is composed by Lalu he never bursting on keys, he doesn't have fast key solos, he only keep the atmosphere of the piece on the right direction. I might say he has some very intristing arrangements, he never shows his technical playing like other prog metal kyebordists but for sure he can create some beautiful soundscapes and intelligent elements. In the end even I find Ark a quite solid prog metal album, I don't think is better then the first, but close I might say. Forte tune Revelations, an epic clocking around 20 min, a real pleasure.3 stars rounded to 3.5 for sure.
Report this review (#1139135)
Posted Thursday, February 27, 2014 | Review Permalink

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