ATLAS – Built To Last (2023)

ATLAS - Built To Last (2023) - full

With their roots in ’80s AOR, pop-prog and melodic rock, ATLAS will deliver their third album, ”Built To Last”, on 20 October 2023 via Metalapolis Records. This band from North of England was founded by keyboardist James Thorley in early 2017 with the intention to create their own mix of elaborated AOR and melodic rock from the 80s, while exploring other areas of modern hard rock, pop/rock and progressive rock.
On ”Built To Last” ATLAS sound draws heavily from AOR classics such as TOTO and JOURNEY, but also contemporary representatives such as WORK OF ART and W.E.T., combined with subtle, melodious progressive elements.
The approach for this third album was to write and record a bunch of songs ‘built to last indeed’, where the overall production surpassed the band’s previous efforts.
With the band members improving as musicians and the help of a pro-team – consisting of James Thorley responsible for the mixing and production, while Grammy winner Thomas Johansson in charge of the mastering – ATLAS have created not only their best album to date, but also one of the most interesting platters of the year.

These guys have toured with The Quireboys, Praying Mantis, Eric Martin, and the AOR legends FM, so they’ve been moving and shaking in all the right places.
Opener “All or Nothing” is a winner. Starting off with Thorley’s grandiose keyboards / synths and heavy ass riffage from Howie Little, as the verse heads to the first big hook chorus, what’s immediately clear is these guys have listened to dare I say Europe as well as the less guitar heavy tunes of the aforementioned FM.
We are impressed by the obvious highly skilled musicianship, and Craig Wells displays a strong wide range vocally. Some nice time changes lead to a …now that’s a tasty guitar solo. Kudos to the rhythm section of Chris Redfearn on bass and Ryan Briggs on drums, their work really contributes to the whole feel of the song. Top class arrangements and fist to air inducing rhythms. What’s not to like.

“You’re Not Alone” sounds a lot like Bon Jovi’s ‘It’s My Life’ and that’s a good thing, and anthem for the arenas. ”One More Night” adds a cool retro UK AOR feel yet with a modern sound, while ”Tears” go for a more atmospheric midtempo pace, not exactly a ballad, but really different of what heard before. “Unfamiliar Love” returns to the AOR hymn mold, akin H.E.A.T, and it’s another great ditty.

We mentioned ATLAS little proggy side? Well, they deliver “Chasing Portraits”, a song with three movements. But don’t worry, all these – which work as standalone songs btw – are pure AOR stuff. The prog element here should be treated as ‘Pomp’ here, and all really works for the band. Really fine arrangements here.
“Bury a Lie” serves a riff-driven tune with a bit of the Scandinavian current melodic rock sound (that means huge), before closer ”Best Is yet to Come” mixes the musicality of FM with a certain Journey punch from 2000’s

ATLAS already demonstrated to be an interesting band on their previous works with a lot of potential.
All that is crystallized on ”Built To Last”, a complete album from songwriting, musicianship, AOR catchiness and a bit ‘extra’ in the arrangements – to polished production & mix.
Really well done guys. British AOR is alive and well 2023.
HIGHLY Recommended


01 – All or Nothing
02 – You’re Not Alone
03 – One More Night
04 – Another Heartbreak
05 – Tears
06 – Unfamiliar Love
07 – Just Like That
08 – Chasing Portraits I – Lonely Hearts
09 – Chasing Portraits II – Closer to the Picture
10 – Chasing Portraits III – Painted Memories
11 – Bury a Lie
12 – Best Is yet to Come

Craig Wells – Vocals
Howie Little – Guitar
James Thorley – Keys
Chris Redfearn – Bass
Ryan Briggs – Drums
Sam Millar – Additional Backing Vocals


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