If ‘The Atlas Underground Fire’ proves anything at all, it’s these two things: Tom Morello is excellent at networking, and has some serious musical balls. Few others could get away with covering AC/DC’s inimitable ‘Highway To Hell’, but when you’ve provided the riffs for Rage Against The Machine, you can do anything – including asking Eddie Vedder and Bruce Springsteen (who’s still got it in spades) to guest on it. It’s an early standout on this wildly eclectic record that crams tracks of every popular genre in, from the stomping rock of ‘Let’s Get The Party Started’ (where Tom makes an excellent sixth member of Bring Me The Horizon) to the glitchy dubstep of ‘Charmed I’m Sure’ (featuring Protohype). In less controlled hands, this record could have felt extremely confused, but it instead feels more like a diverse musical circus where Tom is the ringmaster. For all its ambition, however, it occasionally leans a little too heavily on the cliched conventions of certain genres, particularly pop and dance. Meanwhile, on the likes of ‘Driving To Texas’ and ‘Night Wish’, Tom’s own presence isn’t quite felt consistently to the point where he comes across as absent. Nonetheless, its ambition and creative concept can still be applauded, and there are some hidden gems to be found.
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A lurid affair.