Does it ever feel sometimes like we have slipped into another reality? Another dimension where everything feels the same, yet totally and completely different? That’s exactly what hip hop veterans Atmosphere have done with their new album, The Day Before Halloween, released on, well, the day before Halloween.
Getting inspiration from thriller fiction novels, as well as the hellish train wreck that has been 2020, the respected duo’s new album takes everything you expected it would be and flips it entirely upside down.
Creating its own path down a trail of Ant’s rough synths and on-point drum tracks, coupled with Slug’s distorted vocals and narrative-setting mastery, The Day Before Halloween takes you through the doors of one reality as a soul lost in an Orwellian 1984 before spitting you out into another twisted, Ryan Murphy-type world. The album was released alongside a full-length YouTube movie by the same name, directed by Jason Goldwatch, and it stands up to everything creepy and incredible that the album does.
“Where the Road Forks” kicks things off by immediately, hitting you with the synths that made 80s music so recognizable. Slug, born Sean Daley, comes in with a chorus of his own reverberated voice, spending the first track in a bit of a self-reflective mood, stating “considering all the shit that you’ve seen, I don’t see what you’re seeing in me”. Developed over the past few decades, Slug’s ability to tell a story with his lyrics cautiously invites the listener in, opening them up to a world of gripping descriptions that force you to sit back and spend time reflecting on your own life, love, stress and setbacks. As an opening track, it sets the stage for the journey us listeners are about to travel.
Jumping down to the album’s fifth track entitled “The Future is Disgusting”: this one rolls up a joint like a bazooka, continuing the theme of distorting your mind into thinking we’ve slipped into a different realm. It truly is disgusting, yet in the most perfect way. This track makes it very clear the feelings of haters are anything but important. Not caring what they find inappropriate — “it’s a bar, not a church, your Holiness”. Of course, there had to be at least one song where Ant shows off a bit. The talent this man has when it comes to spinning the Ones and Twos is next to none. He skillfully wraps up the song with an epic display of scratching laid over top of those famous DSL boot up tones and screeches.
Time to take a trip with this one. Released as a single, the record’s eighth track “Blotter Acid Reflux Syndrome” (or “BARS”, for short), engulfs our brains with an organ-driven score reminiscent of an old horror movie. Raising eyebrows and invoking thought with lines such as “all I wanted was to be a part of something larger than the sum of the parts… and it’s my darkest parts that seem to get all the shine.” Fitting in perfectly with the rest of the album, “BARS” is just that. Slug’s penmanship is on point like never before in this shady, sometimes disturbing refrain that fans are sure to find fascinating.
In the 20 some odd years they have been on the scene, Slug and Ant have been building a legacy of honesty and humility.
Atmosphere exposes true vulnerability, all the while pushing music to develop into something beyond and never abandoning their roots. The two have molded the tracks on this album in a way that is truly unique, without forgetting to pay homage to those who shaped them into what they are today — the mighty Atmosphere.
Purchase or stream ‘The Day Before Halloween’ album:
- Where The Road Forks
- Space Is Safe
- She Loves Me Not
- The New People
- The Future Is Disgusting
- Blotter Acid Reflux Syndrome
- Party Crashers
- Sleep Apnea
Atmosphere – “The Day Before Halloween” full-length movie:
Cover photo by Shelly Mosman
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.