It is always difficult to review a band that has had a considerably large influence on your present music taste. My first encounter with Lower Than Atlantis was between the covers of Rocksound. I have just spent a good half an hour trying to find the precise issue in which I first heard of them – I was unsuccessful, but I was able to find the issue that made me decide to go out and look for their music. It was in Rocksound’s February issue of 2012. They had run a feature article on 95 bands that were possibly going to rule the year. Lower Than Atlantis was down among some of my favourite bands at the time: Linkin Park, Paramore, Bring Me The Horizon, We Are The Ocean, Young Guns, and several others. In that year I fell in-love with Lower Than Atlantis’s rough and unruly mix of post-hardcore and gritty alternative rock. They were one of the bands that made me fall in love with the British rock scene. I mean, I started listening to Biffy Clyro because of Lower Than Atlantis – and everybody knows that I’d go gay for Simon Neil.
The article happened to coincide with the release of their third album Changing Tune, which signaled some kind of change in Lower Than Atlantis’s sound. Melodic riffs and hooks crept onto the album, and several of their songs started receiving a lot of mainstream radio play on BBC Radio 1. However, I don’t think anybody expected anything like their fourth, and self-titled, album to emerge from the creative minds of the band. When I first heard the lead single off Lower Than Atlantis, I was a bit shocked. “Here We Go” was this massive and slick song that honestly sounded nothing like the band that I had originally started listening to, but there was still that outrageous sense of energy that got me hooked on the band in the first place.
Lower Than Atlantis have done a complete 180 with their sound. Once they pioneered a sound that straddle the gap between post-hardcore and alternative rock and now they’ve taken a rather pop-rock approach to alternative rock. Soaring melodies, catchy hooks, and chugging guitar riffs blast their way through Lower Than Atlantis’s slick song structures. There is no holding back on this album as the band furiously breaks way from the oppressive manacles of Islands Records, after being signed to Sony Records. A song that reflects their discontent with Islands Records is “Criminals”. Mike Duce delivers the vicious lyric of “Broke thugs getting major label love/ is it really selling-out if you just used them for their funds?” from behind a wall of snarling guitar riffs.
“Emily” delivers a straight-up pop-punk song – it actually makes me think of Green Day. The guitar riffs sounds a lot like the guitar riffs in “Jesus of Suburbia”, but that is probably just the Green Day fan inside of me who thinks that. The song delivers straight-edge four chord hooks and punchy guitar work that scream of unrequited love and youthful abandonment. “Stays The Same” is possibly the most mellow song on the album – it isn’t no “Another Sad Song”, but it is the equivalent of it on this album. Gentle acoustic guitars give way to upbeat and melodic guitar hooks as the song is propelled into being an anthemic alternative rock anthem.
The thing about Lower Than Atlantis is that it is good and proper rock ‘n roll. There is no mucking about with overly complicated progressive guitar riffs. It follows the simple structure of bridge, hook, chorus and repeat. It is the oldest trick in the book, but the trick never fails. It especially never fails with a sound as vivacious and as massive as what Lower Than Atlantis has conjured.