I have been a rock and roll journalist for more years than I can remember, and it is always a treat to discover artists of whom I have never heard. It is even more of a treat to have access to them and allow them to explain the creative process behind their work. The Atkins May Project is a synthesis of two remarkable talents; Christian guitarist Paul May and former Judas Priest and Holy Rage singer Al Atkins. In this multi-part series we go through the twenty songs which have appeared on their two albums so far, and let Al and Paul tell us the secrets behind the sounds.
The liner notes of the first album, Serpents Kiss are by Neil Daniels who described the music as “solid, honest working-class heavy metal” and goes on to praise the “fine axework and killer choruses”. It is hard not to agree.
So here we go – hold on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Serpents Kiss (2011)
The Shallowing (Paul May)
Starting off with a multi-layered guitar soundscape, this song, which appears to describe a crisis of conscience or – if you were - a dark night of the soul, sets out the band’s stall perfectly. The layers of guitars are slightly reminiscent of Achilles Last Stand by Led Zeppelin back in 1975, but with a glossy modern edge! The instrumental soundscapes conjured up by maestro May are alternately exhilarating and frightening, and the descending bass line gives you a sense of dread. What a way to start!
PAUL: I wanted to create a kind of an "overture" to the album with the intro on this track, to create a kind of a tension before exploding into action with the guitar riffs, I like this track. we also covered this song again in completely different way on the new album "Valley of Shadows" . The intro will probably end up being the intro music to any live shows:) I love the vocals Al does on this track particularly towards the end with the multi layers we put down to give us that haunting effect.
AL: ...this just had to be the opener, a great song by Paul and what I call progressive metal. Classic!!
Traitors Hand (Paul May)
This relentless song begins with frenetic hammer ons, which soon give way to an out of control sonic juggernaut. The words are bitter and venomous, and I for one would like to know what they’re about.
PAUL: Pure Metal. Its a bit like a runaway train this one, and dramatic lyrics that cover not only the betrayal of Christ but a message of warning to be aware of the tactics of the devil! Sensitive stuff huh?!
AL:...this one is an “'in your face song”', I double tracked the vocals by screaming out the other in unison at one time thought about taking out the lower pitch vocal but in the end we decided to leave it in.
Dream Maker (May/Rowley)
Wittily reference a 1931 hit single Dream a Little Dream of Me, this mid-paced rocker opens with an impressive Middle Eastern guitar figure which flawlessly leads into the sort of grit which would have not have been out of place on a Coverdale era Deep Purple album. The lyrics appear to be inspired by Paul May’s faith, and he should be congratulated for sharing his religious beliefs with his fanbase.
PAUL: Its the track with the gong!! I wanted to use that as a kind of announcement, lyrically it’s content is fairly blatant, it’s really a modern day Psalm and Prayer calling on God for a plan and purpose and the guts to see it through . “Classic” Hard Rock sound like old school metal.
Al: this is one of my favorites, a very commercial and well written song by Dave Rowley and Paul.
Can you Hear Me (Paul May)
Another religious song built around an infectiously catchy, almost funky, riff. This is the perfect example of Al singing Paul’s heartfelt lyrics, clearly to the Almighty for forgiveness. Or at least it’s the Almighty, I might have got it wrong, and if so it’s about some chick.
PAUL: This is a bit more nu-metal type, a metal prayer ! I love the gravel in Als voice on this one proper metal.
Al: I thought all Paul's songs were about some chick? 'just kidding' saying that, when we talk of filming videos for some of the songs I often think of the lyric content in a different way to what Paul's actually wrote. Another great song!!
BUY IT NOW AT GONZO:
The Serpents Kiss
CD - £9.99