Wednesday, 28 November 2012


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.

Check out Part One Here

Signz (May/Rowley)
This epic ballad about avoiding the pitfalls and temptations of life is based around a riff so thundering that it could have built Stonehenge. There is a nifty rhythm change on the fourth beat on every bar, which wrong-foots the listener and puts them in just the right frame of mind for this cautionary tale.

AL...another meaningful one by May and Rowley and that nifty rhythm change you mentioned Jon threw me a few times on first hearing until I got into it.

Fight (Paul May)
This is the most modern-sounding track on the album so far. There is a tremendous bass drum sound on the introduction, and a dashingly contemporary prog metal drum pattern which, together with the insistent guitar riff, perfectly complements another astonishing rocker. Again it’s difficult to know whether this song is secular or religious; when Al sings “You can’t break me, you won’t shake me” is he singing to a human adversary, or to the Lord of Darkness himself?
PAUL ; We chose this as the video, a commercial rocker with "Macho" imagery. and yes well spotted!!

Al....we chose this for the video which was recorded in the South of Wales which we really enjoyed doing with the help of Vic and Tom from 'Back Pocket Prophet' . This is pure rock and roll and again a very commercial song which has gained around 15, 000 hits on
YouTube so far.

Judge (May/Rowley)
This apocalyptic mid-paced rocker is – from where I am sitting – the forthcoming Armageddon set to another arrangement vaguely reminiscent of Deep Purple Mark IV. As I am very fond of Deep Purple Mark IV this is no bad thing. It is interesting to hear Paul’s guitar lines playing the sort of figures one would normally have expected being produced from a Hammond organ by the late Jon Lord.

PAUL; Judge is certainly an apocalyptic view, with a weird 7/8 tempo which kind of adds to the tension of the subject. Its a riff fest!!

Al you say Jon you can sometimes feel and expect Hammond organ sounds any minute but we decided against them, Paul double tracked and triple traced all the harmonies to keep it more metal sounding...Paul and Dave again coming up with another classic.

Betta than Twisted (Paul May)
Here the album takes a completely unexpected twist. With a rhythm section that never does quite what you expect and a very clever but disarmingly simple riff Al sings another song of bitterness and betrayal. This is probably my favourite track on the album.

PAUL : It’s song about the betrayal of trust, the malice that is inflicted from that bitterness and the legend that is created when that story is embellished and retold overand over until the lies become ‘truth’ in a twisted mind! Ha, not for the faint hearted! cool riff though :) And storming vox from Al again!

Al...two words 'Killer Track'

Cold Gin (Ace Frehley)
It takes a lot of guts to tackle a song by Kiss, but much to my surprise Paul and Al get away with it and put their own inimitable stamp all over it. It fits perfectly into the cohesive whole of the album and makes perfect sense within the Serpents Kiss setting.

PAUL: I took a lot of stick for putting this on the album!! lol!! most people think its song that promotes alcohol, but if they actually read up on it they'd find out a little more!! I like it!! I don't think we should be frightened to approach subjects that others see as taboo! Wait 'til we cover Jumping Jack Flash!!! Ha!!

Al ...i thought it would be a good idea to record a cover for our debut album which would catch peoples attention and also might get us more air play but having trawled through endless rock/metal songs from various artists from AC/DC to Lizzy we couldn't come up with one that would sit with the rest of our songs. Then Paul come up with an old Kiss song 'Cold Gin' he altered the middle guitar section ,put on his trademark guitar sound and 'Bingo'....i then laid down on my gritty vocals and we got it....

Theatre of Fools (Paul May)
Opening with a lyrical and melodic lead guitar passage overlaid upon an unyielding bass riff makes you feel that the marauders are at the gates. The world-weary lyrics cast a mirror at society as a whole and don’t like what they see. What a way to bring this classic album to a close.

PAUL: “Theatre of Fools” my favourite track for several different reasons. It is an epic at just under 9 minutes!! It’s a controversial subject! There's loads of light and dark moments, as the song progresses and builds to its climax. Al’s vocals were fabulous and we knew that this had to be the finishing track on the album! It was quite “prophetic” in its nature.” “It’s about dictators, tyrants and the fall of their regimes! It was written with the Iraq situation and conclusion still in the media’s eye and the public’s heart. I just felt that there was much more to come. And sure enough within a short space of time we saw the further demise of several tyrants and world dictatorships! The song tells about the role of madness that causes devastation, by men who try to act like they are "gods", with their only eventuality being their own destruction!

Al ...this one is my favorite of all the songs on the album, it's a big epic song and it needed a big vocal and I think I just pulled it out the bag, another progressive/metal track by Paul …..warlords , battle scenes, blood and guts this one!!!!

This record should be played loud. Very loud. Rodney Matthews’ stunning cover art perfectly complements this package, and I am very much looking forward in a few day’s Rodney Matthews’ stunning cover art perfectly complements this package, and I am very much looking forward in a few day’s time to doing it all again with their second album, 2012’s Valley of Shadows.


The Serpents Kiss
CD - £9.99

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