Fredrikstad, Norway, is home to a band that goes by the name of Grand Atomic. This trio of heavy psych/doom metal musicians has just released their debut full-length album, a massive-sounding beast titled Beyond The Realm Of Common Sense.
About Beyond The Realm Of Common Sense
Grand Atomic was formed in 2016 and counts Frederik Bäckstrøm (vocals/guitar), Odd Helge Eide (drums), and Einar Ruud-Jørgensen (bass) as members. They formed “with a mission to make bone-crushing, fuzzed-out music as they did back in the ’70s and ’90s.” They took influences from bands like Sleep, OM, and Electric Wizard, added in their own personalities, and came out with a sound wholly their own. The resulting music, as evidenced on Beyond The Realm Of Common Sense, is massive in its sound, as thunderous as a herd of stampeding rhinos, and as they hoped, quite bone-crushing.
Mountain Toker (Summit Smoker) is the first song, and the Sleep influence is heard in the grooved-out, slow ‘n heavy riff that kicks this album off. Grand Atomic can and will transport you to another plane of existence, one that is reliant on spacey vibes and thick, fuzzy guitar tones. Frederik has a vocal style fits the music perfectly, cleanly sung and with just the right atmospheric qualities to push the song over the top. Though I’m a big fan of the monster riffs, I actually think that the heavy psych midsection is my favorite part of the song; it shows that this band is more than the sum of its influences and adds in the dynamics that I feel are necessary for this style of music.
Grand Atomic transitions seamlessly into the next song, Space Train, which feels like a continuation of Mountain Toker (Summit Smoker). The extended instrumental intro lends weight to the song that directly contradicts the following section, which is heavy but not in the riff-fueled way that people expect when they hear that descriptor. This is where Grand Atomic stretches its heavy psych legs, allowing the strength to come from the bass frequencies and the slow groove that are the true power behind this track.
Nibiru is another seamless transition between tracks and great use of the Sleep and Electric Wizard influences can be heard throughout, as well as some aspects that pull from the drone scene. Frederik is back with vocals after being absent from Space Train, his tone and execution rely on creating an atmosphere for the droning qualities to shine.
Descending is the first time we get a break between tracks, which helps the song feel like its own thing and not a continuation of the song before it. Ever present are the massive tone and weight of the riffs, a prominent groove, and that otherworldly vibe that runs underneath every track on this album. My only complaint is that we’re still getting the same thing after four songs, with no new ground being broken.
The droning outro of Descending slides directly into the next song, Drifter Part II, and soon moves into what sounds like an upright bass or cello being played with a bow but with a slightly distorted tone. This eventually moves into a bass and drum groove passage. The power increases when the guitars come in, eventually leading into a seriously excellent heavy psych section. As much as I loved the first three songs, this is the first time I have felt that they have tried something different, and I’d pick this one as my favorite.
While the last track, King of Hesh is cool, it is also my least favorite of the six. My thought process is based on personal preference and that we’ve already walked down this path, and only a little has changed since then. I will give them credit for dialing things back briefly, but even that felt forced to me, and when the riff re-entered, it was just more of the same ole, same ole. They could have left this song off the album or at least shortened its runtime to make the album better.
Beyond The Realm Of Common Sense is six tracks of low, down-tuned heaviness with many slow grooves and heavy psych elements, an absolute bruiser of a release full of thundering bass frequencies taking listeners on a journey into sound.
As I mentioned earlier, I’d liked to have seen more differentiation between the tracks, as the songs began to sound overly similar to the ones that came before them. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that many people will go apeshit over Beyond The Realm Of Common Sense, loving everything about it … including the things that I didn’t.
Support Grand Atomic by finding them on Bandcamp or social media (Instagram, Facebook).
This review was written by Tom Hanno, who has been writing reviews for the last 7 years but has been sharing his love of music for the majority of his life. Originally starting out at the now-defunct Chimera Magazine, he is currently contributing to Doomed and Stoned, The Sleeping Shaman, The Doom Charts, Tom’s Reviews, and The Third Eye. Read more of Tom’s reviews by checking out his Linktree.
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