Album Review: Atlas The Atom Smasher’s “The Snowmiser Suite”

Artist: Atlas the Atom Smasher
Full Title: The Snowmiser Suite
Release Date: January 1, 2012
Label: Self-Released
Comments: It’s 2012, the apocalypse is almost upon us and the end of the world is nigh. Alright, no, I personally don’t buy into anything relating to the mayan calendar or December 21st of this year. However, if you were to ask Atlas The Atom Smasher, it can be the perfect subject matter to base an album around. “The Snowmiser Suite”, the Punk trio’s newest release, is exactly that: one 12 minute, three part punk rock odyssey about finding oneself and making sense of the world’s problems right in the midst of, you guessed it, the apocalypse. The song’s three movements each call to mind different emotions that might come out of a situation such as this. At some points the lyrics reflect hope for mankind’s future, while in other places there is a sense of anger about the factors that might have led to the world’s destruction. Finally, the boys in Atlas seem to reach a point of understanding and even acceptance with the chaos they’ve depicted here.
The EP begins with ominous guitar chords that build right into the first movement “Snowmiser”; here frontman Aaron Hibbert sings with a kind of pained optimism. The state of the world he depicts is anything but pleasant, but he holds on to a small sense of hope as he proclaims “we’ll be okay someday”, a line that goes on to be a recurring idea later in the song.
The second movement, “Heatmiser”, abruptly transitions from hopeful anthem into furious hardcore driven by the relentless rhythm section of bassist Josh Wilson and Drummer Tyler Bisson. Whatever hope might have existed in the first movement vanishes here; Hibbert and Bisson trade off angry vocals, each railing against humanities’ choices and actions (Killing the mother for fuel to survive/ as if killing each other could keep us alive). To close out the second section, the band features some fine guest appearances, the first by vocalist Chelsea Maida, who brings back the idea that “we’ll be okay”. Guitarist Nicholas Wiedeman (Big Mess) provides a heavily distorted guitar solo over a slow, heavy, blues interlude that marks the end of movement two.
From here, the band progresses into movement three, a quick paced, straightforward punk rock romp that brings back that lighthearted optimism shown at the beginning of the record. Judging from the lyrics, Hibbert appears to have reached a point of peace and acceptance as he sings “I hope that I finally get to see the apocalypse”, as if he knows whats coming, yet has no problem with it. There are even clever jabs at subjects like religion: “raise up your arms as if praising the sun could save us from anything and all that we’ve done to ourselves”. This memorable EP comes to a close with Hibbert and company proudly exclaiming “we’ll be okay”. The difference this time is that they seem confident, as if over the last 12 minutes they were able to reach an understanding of the world’s problems that led to this horrible situation.
Overall, “The Snowmiser Suite” is a very impressive release that approaches the subject of doomsday from many different angles. Hibbert’s lyrics move back and forth between optimism and pessimism, hope and despair, and sometimes pure, unabashed anger. In the process, he brings up subtle political, religious, and even environmental ideas as they could relate to the end of the world. Underneath the vocals, his band moves flawlessly through tempo and meter shifts while effectively interpreting the different moods the lyrics evoke. Each movement captures a different element of modern punk rock. Sometimes it is melodic, other times aggressive, but above all it is quick paced and full of energy while still bringing a complexity not typically seen in punk today.

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