Power of Metal.dk Review

Atkins/May Project
Valley of Shadows
Style: Heavy Metal
Release date: 5 November, 2012
Playing time: 53:17

“Valley of Shadows” follows hot on the heels of the critically acclaimed debut “Serpents Kiss”. To bring everyone up to speed, the Atkins/May Project came into existence when guitarist Paul May needed a Metal singer to give life to a bunch of songs he had envisioned, songs with themes that reflected his Christian philosophies. Enter vocalist Al Atkins, founding member of Judas Priest (he left Priest before their debut album came out).


I’ll cut to the point: “Valley of Shadows” is one of the best Metal albums I’ve heard in a long long time, a belief that keeps getting reinforced with every new spin. Al Atkins’ guttural singing comes across as a mix of Udo Dirkschneider and Blaze Bayley, although his technique is nowhere near these two luminaries. And yet the songs fit him like a glove and I dare say this is one of the best albums to have him as lead singer. First impressions were of an album best appreciated with a wide angle lens, so to speak. But the more I listened to it, the more I kept noting little gems….a solo here, some subtle acoustic strings there…..to the point where I realised that this album is really something special any way you slice it.


Take ‘Enslaved To Love’ - the guitar tones are amazing and downtuned to the extent that the song wouldn’t sound out of place in a St. Vitus album. And yet it fits with the old school Metal ethos of the whole album. When, backed by some real solid drumming, the crescendo creeps in, you can feel your adrenaline glands working overtime.


On the other hand ‘Stronger Is The Grace’ has a very infectious Motorhead-like Punkish tempo. It’s a moshpit-trigger of a song.


‘The Shadowing (Return)’ is one of the album’s mellower moments where Al Atkins’ soulful crooning style is spot on.


And so on, each and every song in the album has its own unique character without ever sounding anomalous. There’s not a whiff of a filler. The quality of the songs is superb. The production is top-notch and Paul May’s solos and riffs successfully tread a fine line between subtlety and full-blown virtuosism.


Christmas has come early this year, and it’s called “Valley of Shadows”.

01. Welcome To The Nightmare
02. No Ordinary Man
03. Bitter Waters
04. Enslaved to Love
05. Stronger Is The Grace
06. Harder They Fall
07. Not Ready to Die
08. Messiah (Prelude)
09. Valley of Shadows

10. The Shallowing (Return)
Label: Gonzo Multimedia
Distribution: Plastic Head Music
Reviewed by: Chris Galea
Date: 24 November, 2012
Website: www.atkinsmayproject.com