Tom Morello – The Atlas Underground Album Review

Tom Morello – The Atlas Underground

Tom Morello is the most influential guitarist around, where he made the biggest impact with Rage Against the Machine, which didn’t stop when the group suspended musicial operations.

Now, Tom Morello has released his very own solo album – The Atlas Underground.

Before you listen to the songs on The Atlas Underground, just clear your mind of what you know of Tom Morello’s music – especially with the supergroup project of Audioslave and the second supergroup rap focussed project Prophets of Rage, and his folk based protest project under The Nightwatchman moniker, that sandwiched both of these Morello’s musicial endeavours.

Now, mind cleared? Good, let’s proceed.

What you get from The Atlas Underground is a mash of electronic adrenaline with some of the most diverse and excellently talented DJ’s, musicians and performers you could gather to put on Tom Morello’s solo project.

The songs and instrumental tracks have the social justice and social injustice protest themes, as in alot of Morello’s musicial projects and endeavours, which doesn’t make it dull – far from it!

You know when you listen to the introduction song Battle Sirens, that you’re going to get an album that maintains energy throughout, especially having the duo behind the drum ‘n’ bass group The Pendulum, though they are currently known as Knife Party.

The songs that feature rappers are:

  • Rabbit’s Revenge – Big Boi and Killer Mike and the music is mostly by heavy metal lookin’ DJ Bassnectar.
  • We Don’t Need You – we have Vic Mensa just using the whole of the rap-vocabulary to explain that we don’t need, ‘the hand that feeds us!’
  • Lucky One – while K-Flay is known to do rapping, in this song she sings in an American punk style.
  • Roadrunner – Leikeli47 doesn’t hold-back as she just goes on an all out offensive on this track.
  • Lead Poisoning – GZA and RZA are founding members of Wu-Tang Clan and interestingly apart from doing the ‘niggaz’ tag a few times – it is refreshing to hear rap without all of the f-bombing and gun-toting gangbanging, something Tom Morello may have been the driving-force of keeping the lyrics as clean as possible, but hard-hitting nevertheless.

The songs that offer opposing musicial forces – are not always easy to pull-off:

  • Every Step I Take – has rockers Portugal. The Man paired with Whethan.
  • Find Another Way – has Marcus Mumford with some trademarked Morello guitar work and slightly heavier.
  • How Long – really has opposite attracts with DJ and producer Steve Aoki providing the music with hardcore punk band Rise Against vocalist – Tim McIIrath; as the song is a statement about cutting through the negative noise that we immerse ourselves in at times, with positive sounds and light.
  • One Nation – seems you cannot get more political with the title of this song. We have Pretty Lights driving his electronic template over this instrumental track with Tom Morello providing more guitar licks to the mix.
  • Viligante Nocturno – if nightfall can be sonically produced then this is probably how it sounds and is the heaviest track on the album, with a strong guitar riff and everything else layered on for good measure partnered with musician Carl Restivo.
  • Where Its At – simply put – pure funk-disco, which having blues musician Gary Clark Jr. vocals adds some Southern-Folk mist, with electronic master Nico Stadi at the helm putting dabs of modern electronic music with a mixture of dupstep.

The Atlas Underground is available in physical form at Tom Morello

The digital format is available at Deezer