A lack of Finnish bands featured on the site over the last couple of years has been a major disappointment, given the rich metal tapestry that the country has historically produced. But Nokia-based Atlas‘ description of their self-monikered brand of ‘Northcore’ as “cold, raw and dark” seems like the perfect place to rectify that.
The Northcore concept combines elements of modern metal and metalcore with Scandinavian melancholy and the cold atmosphere of the north. Themes such as Northern mythology, art and folklore combined with contemporary sounds and themes create the backdrop for a fascinating offering.
The quintet of Patrik Nuorteva (vocals), Leevi Luoto (bass and vocals), Tuomas Kurikka and Aleksi Viinikka (guitars) and Aku Karjalainen (drums) got together in 2015 having all played music through their teens and going through a series of different bands. Debut EP Northern Lights followed in 2016, then the band spent two years writing debut EP Primitive, before it was finally released in October.
The album begins in fine style with the heavy atmospheric opener Skinwalker. A big scream of “Another promise broke, Another scar opened” is supported by anxiety-breeding synth stabs and gives way to a wall of crushing guitars, then darting riffs and huge drums support more screamed vocals. The pace drops down before giving way to a chorus of female vocals answered by screamed vocals.
There’s a more melodic feel to the opening of On Crooked Stones with a synth sound supporting the intro vocals, before a mass of dark guitars, screams and creepier synth sounds take over. A chorus of clean vocals “This house was built with broken bones, This house was built on crooked stones” answered by big screams follows, then drops into atmospheric instrumentals under intense screams. Check it out below:
One of the more intriguing tracks on the album is Pareidolia, which opens with light guitars then intensifying instruments under big screamed vocals. Spoken vocals come in alongside light guitars, then rolling drums support more screams before bursting into powerful clean vocals over booming guitar chords. Check it out in the video below:
But Atlas are potentially at their most savage and intense in second track, and latest single, Feel. Big screamed vocals and darting riffs are supported by an eerie synth sound and pounding drums, then drop into light guitars and a wandering bass, which are soon joined by spoken vocals that grow into screams. Give it a listen below:
The album deliciously combines melodic sections amid seriously heavy djenty metalcore, littered with eerie synth support that perfectly epitomises the Northcore concept they describe to us.
On the album, the band tell us: “The reception has been overwhelmingly positive and we are really proud of the album. The writing process took us two years and we went through lots of ups and downs so it feels really great to have the album out. We also got to do an album release tour with Monuments throughout Europe which was amazing. For anyone who hasn’t listened to the album yet, they can expect our own signature style of metalcore with heavy riffs and breakdowns, big melodies and a cold northern atmosphere.”
The band’s musical influences vary from the likes of Northlane, Architects and The Devil Wears Prada through to the slightly less obvious rap, pop, ambient and even movie scores. But when it comes to what inspires their music, they explain: “We draw inspiration from music, movies, books and other kinds of art alongside the harsh winters and gloom of the north.
“Themes vary from personal subjects like depression, childhood trauma and loss of a loved one to insomnia and nihilism. All topics are quite dark but it’s a form of therapy to write about such subjects and we believe it also helps people relate and know they’re not alone with their adversities. On the next album, we will try something different to change things up a bit.”
Atlas are only the second Finnish band we’ve met in more than two years of running the site which is shameful on our part. But on their local scene, the band tell us: “Finland does have lots of good metal bands including Finntroll, Nightwish, Children of Bodom etc. The metal scene is very much alive even though pop and rap music have taken over in recent years. There’s a ton of new bands and the support is pretty good – not as many local shows or festivals as there used to be but altogether the scene is doing good.”
The band are currently working on new material that they expect to release later in 2019, so keep your eyes peeled!