Atoma Ė Behind Sleep and Space
By: David E. Gehlke
The delay behind Slumberís long-awaited follow-up to 2004ís genius Fallout was simple and complex at the same time. Unable to work within the constraints of the sound they created on their debut, the Swedes waffled with their new material, putting out scattered press releases to assure people that indeed, a sophomore effort was forthcoming. Yet, for every bit as good as Fallout is (itís incredibly goodÖand can be found on the cheap, too), there was a restrictive angle to it that confounded and frustrated its members. Rather than shuffle out an album that was a mere replication of its predecessor, Slumber did what a lot of bands wished they could have done: They changed their name and direction.
Atoma is the resultant, and based on their Skylight debut (Napalm Records), the creative legroom that is on hand should be able to overcome any type of creative boundaries. The album has the darkened melodic touch of Fallout, but is accompanied by luscious clean vocals and a orchestral touch that is pure atmospheric splendor. The album as a whole is intended as a journey, for its flanked by a concept regarding the desire to leave earth for outer space realms. Itís a sci-fi dark metal du jour.
As youíll read below, thereís a lot for one to wrap their head around based on guitarist/main composer Ehsan Kalantarís words about how all-encompassing Atomaís concept is. Actually, itís not terribly dissimilar to Immortalís fictional Blashyrkh, only Atoma wants to go outer space, while Immortal wants winter to be a year-round event. Apples and oranges, right?
Blistering.com: To begin with the obvious: Why did Slumber dissolve?
Ehsan Kalantar: To pave the way for Atoma. We werenít happy with the creative direction of Slumber and were searching for something new and unexplored. To us, Atoma was the home we were searching for. A kingdom of sound where anything is possible and we can let the music take us wherever it wants without cutting its wings.
Blistering.com: Do you have any regrets over not being able to follow-up Fallout properly?
Kalantar: Itís not like we werenít able, we just didnít want to do follow-up without knowing exactly what we want. Generic repetition is something very frowned upon in our group, and somehow Slumber got locked in its death/doom format. There were no real grounds for innovation and challenging new ways for us so we moved on. I do however, sometimes regret that so many years had to pass for us to find Atoma.
Blistering.com: Was there a concern that you would never be able to progress beyond what you did with Fallout? That you had to stay inside the death/doom box?
Kalantar: Yeah this was a concern already during Falloutís creation. The doom/death format we built didnít give us the freedom to explore the universe of sound the way we wanted. Already after Falloutís release we realized many of the songs we were writing, were more an exploitation of Slumber, rather than a genuine musical exploration like we wanted. That somehow we were forced to keep within one frame just to keep within the musical profile. Thatís not what weíre about.
Blistering.com: What do you think Slumber's lasting legacy will be?
Kalantar: Iím not sure. To me and the guys in the group, Slumber is not ďdeadĒ the way you see it. For us itís just a name. Maybe the style has changed, but the core of Slumberís music, I mean its way of melodies, and atmosphere and pain is still alive in everything we do. These are human traits that are deep inside. It goes beyond any name or label.
Blistering.com: Moving onto Atoma, what type of elements were you looking to incorporate into the band's sound?
Kalantar: We wanted to explore music further and find new ways. To be able to create albums that freely flows in and out through many styles and formats, driven by atmosphere and melody as only laws. A kingdom of sound where only our imagination could set the limits, not an outside artificial genre or format.
Blistering.com: How did Christian Alvestam [ex-Scar Symmetry, Miseration] enter the picture? Any concerns about his status/resume getting in the way of what you want to accomplish?
Kalantar: Weíve had a long working relation with Thomas ĎPlecí Johansson (ever since Fallout) who is our sound engineer for Atoma. Plec and Christian have been friends for a long time and played in the same band (Unmoored), so thatís how we got in touch as we were searching for a second guitarist. Not concerned about his resume, Iím more rather impressed that he finds time to engage in the large demanding world of Atoma at the same time heís a busy bee working on his bands. Cheers to him.