Guitarist Paul May and vocalist Al Atkins have a working relationship that spans better than 20 years, beginning largely with the latter's solo albums. Lately, the guitarist and Judas Priest founder have been collaborating as the Atkins May Project, an extension of their musical relationship. They return with their third album, Empire of Destruction.
Fundamentally, Atkins May deliver traditional melodic heavy metal, with a strong rock groove at times and May's vibrant and fiery guitar work at the center. Atkins basically sounds the same with his grizzly leather voice, just older. Thankfully, he has enough sense, at his age, not over extend himself and stay in his range. He's not my favorite vocalist but, as I said with the previous album, I can't imagine anyone else doing these songs. It also seems that May composes the songs to fit his voice, excepting his roaring leads, keeping everything else steady and almost low key. You catch this with the two longest numbers Here Comes The Rain and Whisper to the Wind, where Atkins could easily be singing these songs from overstuffed recliner, while the more youthful May goes about his massive solos.
But AMP can be jammin, taking their metal and revving up the tempo. The Midas Touch and World At War rush along at a quick pace like classic power metal. Similar in speed, but with a more hard rock angle is their cover of Thin Lizzy's Are You Ready. Conversely, The Darkness Within, even with it's rock groove, is somewhat of slower churning number. All this is rather typical and expected of May's song composition. He keeps things varied and different. It's hard to say how long this relationship will last, specifically how much more Atkins has left as he approaches seventy. But if a third time is a charm, then the Atkins May Project deliver another fine helping of guitar-driven classic heavy metal.
BTW: My addition of Empire of Destruction came with a bonus DVD of music videos and an interview with May and Atkins.
If a third time is a charm, then the Atkins May Project deliver another fine helping of guitar-driven classic heavy metal.
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