From Atlantis - Pedestals
Record Label: Invogue Records
Release Date: August 14, 2012
Based in Providence, RI, post hardcore outfit From Atlantis released two EPs in 2010 and 2011 before their debut full-length album, Pedestals, in 2012. Due to repeated member changes and line up instability, Pedestals would unfortunately be their last album. Over the years, three different incarnations of From Atlantis existed, with the final Pedestals-era band being the most angry, pained, and existentially tortured of all.
Album opener "Visions" wastes no time in getting the album started, as the brief plucked strings intro is replaced with downtuned guitars and double bass drumming. Vocalist Nick Mames sounds like he’s on the verge of mental collapse, angrily tearing across a field of post hardcore breakdowns, “This will not die, I know where you stand. I won’t ever see this world the same, I’m blinded by everything.” Lead guitarist and clean vocalist Nicholas Merigan swoops in smoothly, “I’m starting to lose myself, I swear I’ve lost my mind..” The track is extremely aggressive and climactic, yet also progresses thanks to the dual vocal style of Mames and Merigan. Cinematic strings place the backdrop to the post hardcore riffs and chugs. Towards the end of the song unclean vocalist Nick Mames seems to lose it, and wails “I am not what I thought, and nothing is what I thought it was, out into a fucked vision of nothing.” "Visions" is one of the best tracks on the record for it’s powerful lyrics and pummeling instrumentation.
The second song, "The Lost Ones," is a rerecorded version of the song from an older EP that featured vocalist Landon Tewers from The Plot In You. The remade song does not showcase Tewers’ unique vocals, instead using Mames’ angry screams. "The Lost Ones" is most notable for Merigan’s clear, strong vocals in the chorus and the upbeat tempo of the song. It’s not as aggressive as "Visions," but is still very heavy and packs a punch.
The third song, "Pedestals," is one of my favorites. It’s less melodic than "Visions" or "The Lost Ones," but makes up for that with lyrical insight and powerful breakdowns. Mames begins, “These pedestals you make, they are no figure to be praised,” while chugs and snare heavy drumming places an angry background to the song. Following soon after, Merigan does his part as clean vocalist, but sounds a little robotic or overly produced. It doesn’t sound like auto tune or Melodyne, but does sound unnatural or maybe lacking passion. Mames soon takes the song with his tortured, introspective lyrics, “There is no hope for this. Pray for me. I will never see this light, I sent myself here.” Pedestals features delicate piano melodies behind Merigan’s smooth choruses and complex, intricate drumming from Kirby Hurst. I’d like to say that Pedestals is the angriest track on the album, but most of the album is very angry.
Track four, "This Is Where It All Went Wrong," is a little more grooved out, with guitar chords and melodies driving the song. It still features Mames’ pained screams, but the song itself seems brighter and more airy due to the increased presence of clean vocalist Nicholas Merigan. The fifth track, "This One’s For You," is a short ‘hate’ song written to past members of the band, it seems. Mames’ asserts, “You are the king of nothing, just a prophet of slander. You’re just another fake. You are nothing without us.” While this track attempts to be the angriest of all on the album, awkward breakdowns and somewhat empty instrumentation plague the song, leaving it as one of the weaker songs on the album.
The sixth track, "Mammon," is instrumentally simple, with chugs and string bends, but Mames manages to save it with his charismatic screams and powerful lyrics, “I am not your god. I am not here for you.” The song features background strings from keyboardist Mike Florio. Track seven, "Stay Strong," is my least favorite on the album, for a variety of reasons. The song is written with clean vocalist Nick Merigan as the spotlight, which wouldn’t be a problem if he had better lyrics, “I’m stronger than this, because there’s so much to live for.” I’m not sure if he wrote the song’s vague lyrics himself, but they’re not very moving. Still, the worst part of the song isn’t the cheesy lyrics. It’s the obnoxious, major key tone that persists the entire time – it sounds like a metal band covering a posi-pop punk band, then deciding to add “woooah-ohh!” during the verses. "Stay Strong" is the hardest track to listen to on the album, in my opinion. It’s just too cheesy for its own good.
The eighth track, "Sink Fast," feels like the reverse twin of "Stay Strong"; it’s extremely negative and depressed, as Mames wails, “It’s the end, I can feel it in my veins. Heaven denied my cries for help.” These are probably my favorite lyrics on the album, because Mames’ passion is truly shown. Authenticity always trumps fake lyrics. Merigan is featured again, singing “I’m starting to sink fast to the bottom.. you can only go so far along with just getting by.” "Sink Fast" features unique lead guitar melodies along with powerful breakdowns and snare hits. Managing to be angry, heavy, yet also melodic and jam worthy, "Sink Fast" redeems the band for "Stay Strong."
Track nine, "Limitless," is a ballad featuring Merigan singing, Florio on the piano, and Hurst on drums. There is no guitar on this track, but it doesn’t feel empty or out of place. It’s a simple break up song, as Merigan narrates, “You were the farthest from perfection. You wanted attention over love and affection. I gave you everything, but it wasn’t enough.” This song is a nice break from the angry, fast tempo of the record thus far. The real flaw of the track is that it could be so much more passionate, because again Merigan sounds detached, robotic, too emotionless. It’s hard to like him, even on this track, because of his lack of emotional presence.
The final track, "Diseased," is one of the most powerful and staggering songs of the album. The guitar bends and chugs are present as always, but Merigan’s surprisingly catchy clean vocals add a good tone to the song, “How can you live like this with no way out? I cannot wait to prove you wrong. You put your beliefs in the wrong hands. When will you figure out that your whole life is just a lie? I feel sorry for you.” Mames’ gnarly screams litter the song with anger and judgment, “Your ignorance is causing your disease,” while staggered breakdowns and cymbal crashes add a dramatic tone to the song. The final track ends with a vocal outro of both Mames and Merigan together. Merigan croons “Stop dreaming when you are awake, this whole world is diseased and so am I,” and Mames violently screams “No way in or out, sailing for the faith, sinking with the rest of them. Open up and see what you are, diseased.” The song is easily one of the best, if not the best, song on the album due to its unique vocal interplay and powerful lyrics.
Overall, Pedestals is lyrically passionate, a tad overproduced, and instrumentally similar to its peers. Some fans were dissatisfied with the album, but to them I would recommend listening to the lyrics and vocal patterns to really enjoy the music. What the final incarnation of From Atlantis lacked in electronica synth pads and auto-tuned vocals, they made up for in authenticity and honest perspectives.
I'm confused. The album is "slightly overproduced, and instrumentally forgettable/lacks musical talent" yet the musicianship is given an 8 and the whole album has a score of 89%? I realize lyrics are important, but they can't carry the whole album.
I think the musicianship of an album is more important than the lyrics.