By Laura Wiebe
Skylight is a science fiction concept album, a sonic escape from the end of the world. As any musical journey through space should be, AtomA’s debut is rich with spectral textures and dramatic development. The underlying narrative – about a group of astronauts seeking a new home to replace the nearly destroyed planet Earth –provides motivation for the range and kinds of sound AtomA produces, but you don’t need to follow the story to enjoy the sonic experience. Skylight is mostly heavy progressive rock of the atmospheric and experimental variety, integrated with slivers of death metal and industrial and perhaps a slight touch of the Swedish trio’s doomy past (the band features members of Slumber). In the opening three tracks this combination takes an Ewigkeit-like shape, building through the introductory soundscapes of the eponymous opener and the slight growls of the title track toward the climactic “Hole in the Sky.” The mood eases a bit to flow more softly (in a Tiamat-ish way) through the next two songs, incorporating hints of wordless angelic singing, strings, and eastern melodies, until “Resonance” brings the record back to its progressive rock foundations with a driving momentum and expressive guitar solo. Spacier instrumental atmospheres become increasingly pervasive throughout the remaining songs, drenching the guitar/bass/drums core in a swirling miasma of synthesized timbres. “Cloud Nine” resolves the journey in a distant reflection of Skylight’s opening intensity, but for me, the record peaks with those first three tracks, becoming more soundscape than song-based from there on in.