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Tom Morello - The Atlas Underground Flood (Album Review)

Wednesday, 15 December 2021 Written by Emma Wilkes

Photo: Travis Shinn

Tom Morello has barely left his listeners any time to catch their breath since he last released new music. Inspired by the Clash’s double album ‘London Calling’, the Rage Against The Machine guitarist has pulled another 12 collaborations out of his hat a mere six weeks after the release of the sprawling ‘The Atlas Underground Fire’.

Twenty-four new tracks in less than two months sounds like the stuff of dreams for any diehard fan, but the reality is not so sweet where ‘The Atlas Underground Flood’ is concerned. Occasionally it is possible to have too much of a good thing.​ 

In some ways, ‘The Atlas Underground Flood’ does make small improvements on its predecessor. Morello feels more present this time around, inviting himself into the musical landscapes with leaping guitar flourishes that blur genre boundaries more successfully than ‘The Atlas Underground Fire’ managed to. 

However, his presence occasionally becomes a song’s saving grace, especially on the vanilla country-pop number You’ll Get Yours (featuring X Ambassadors) and the dragging, bland The Lost Cause (featuring Manchester Orchestra). Even then, he can’t bail out every track when many of them commit the same crime of, sadly, being a bit dull. 

Andrew McMahon collaboration The Maze feels like the sort of music that would suit the trailer of a mediocre adventure film, while the clunky chaos of I Have Seen The Way makes no forward movement, only ever going around in circles. What these songs need is a sense of stickiness, the kind Morello and Bring Me The Horizon created on Let’s Get The Party Started. 

The vast majority offer nothing to latch onto, the exceptions being the jagged thump of EDM dancefloor filler Ride At Dawn, and the snarling Idles collaboration The Bachelor (though it sounds so out of place it probably would’ve been better off on their recent album ‘Crawler’). Above all, it’s hard to escape the feeling that, particularly with its less sparkly list of collaborators, ‘The Atlas Underground Flood’ is superfluous, and hardly a record that cries out for repeat listens. 

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