Album Review: Tom Morello - 'The Atlas Underground Flood'

3 December 2021 | 4:21 pm | Mary Varvaris

How Morello's star-studded new collaborative album stacks up.

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Tom Morello is a creative beast. Never one to stop working – look at his resume of appearances – he isn't content on giving the limelight to just one style of music or a sole contributor. On The Atlas Underground Flood, Morello's third collaborative album, a gathering of icons and current stars in all genres takes place.

Human (feat. Barns Courtney) resembles Imagine Dragons' Believer before a rip-roaring solo sends us to metal heaven. Hard Times (feat. Nathaniel Rateliff, Jim Jones, and Chipotle Joe) sits firmly in the hip hop lane, with a consistent siren riff lacing the unexpected group together. Following Morello's venture into country music with Chris Stapleton earlier this year, You'll Get Yours (feat. X Ambassadors) and the Ben Harper-led Raising Hell provide the kind of chill country-pop vibes that could soundtrack a Sons Of Anarchy montage.

On Ride At Dawn, featuring techno-punk artist BreakCode, The Atlas Underground Flood suddenly becomes rave-worthy. The fun I Have Seen The Way (feat. Alex Lifeson, Kirk Hammett, and Dr Fresch) with its "brothers and sisters, I have seen the way" refrain would have been bogged down by repetition if not for the heavy beat and whammy bar-infused solos. It’s the definitive track of the project: where electronica meets metal and leads to a banger. Here’s hoping that Morello calls up Blanck Mass next!

The best results are with Manchester Orchestra and IDLES; when you turn on The Lost Cause and Andy Hull's gorgeous melodies seep out of the speakers, you might as well be listening to Manchester Orchestra's slick sixth album, The Million Masks Of God. It's a beauty. Likewise, IDLES and Morello craft a hectic barn-burner worthy of a spot on their latest album, Crawler, with The Bachelor. Favourite worlds come together in these tracks, where Morello spotlights today's indie-rock and post-punk sensations, his guitar work sending tracks to a whole new universe.

However, it's not all great news — The Maze feat. Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness doesn't quite hit the mark, Jim James’ stunning vocal abilities are sadly compressed to death on Parallels, and Warrior Spirit is nothing Rodrigo y Gabriela fans haven’t heard before.

Throughout The Atlas Underground Flood, there are messages of being better than before, a whole lot of rage, machinery, surprising twists and turns, and mind-boggling solos Tom Morello is known for. What’s not to love?

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