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ATON FIVE – ATON FIVE (2023)

Now I must confess I knew absolutely nothing about this Moscow group. I see from their Bandcamp page that this album was (inevitably!) four years on the making and a ‘stop-start’ affair. I’ve had a couple of listens now and it kind of shows.


Playing in a metallic prog mode there are two keyboard players and a guest organ and piano soloist on ‘Danse Macabre’, one of five tracks over 50 minutes of music. The guitarist Alexander Seleznev obviously has a key role and is assisted with production by bassist Mikhail Zenkov. This is where it falls down a bit as, while there is ‘light and shade’, an essential ingredient of successful prog music in my opinion, the music can be quite relentless and hard to pin down; the musicianship is excellent though.


The 22-minute suite ‘Lethe’ that ends the album would probably be my go-to (along with the stirring opener ‘Alienation’) as it offers time for reflection, including a recitation of John Keats’ poem ‘Ode on Melancholy’ and a guitar section that Dave Gilmour might have been proud of, and there is a wonderfully emotive organ denouement that reminded me of early Procol Harum of all things.


Having said all that, Aton Five has created quite a stir in prog circles and I definitely urge you to check it out. If you do not lean towards the metal side of things do not be put off as Aton carefully straddle the line between metal and prog: a cerebral and tense creation then that, in the context of Covid and the Ukraine invasion, is no surprise.


PS There are not many great prog bands to come out of Russia but Aton Five definitely have the potential to go on to greater heights.

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