A little over a year ago these five men entered a studio to record their first release, Urbi Et Orbi, and now already I find myself reviewing their debut full-length, Atlas, again self-released (i'm sure they're on labels' radars though). Put on some early Bad Religion, NOFX, Offspring and compare it to their more recent albums and there's an obvious maturity in their sound (for the better, you decide); now draw that parallel to Lipona who have completed that task in under a year discounting recording advancements. Either they work really hard or are naturally talented musicians; I think it's a combination.
Imagine A Wilhelm Scream playing pop-punk perhaps? The first track, "Shutup and Stay Positive" flies at you fereciously through a much friendly, less aggressive tone that seems to characterise Lipona's sound. The moment the acoustic introduction ends, it's just pure fire, yet somehow positive, uplifting and friendly. There is rarely a break with the explosive momentum taking a stranglehold on your attention throughout be, it through a high-velocity pace or extensive passion.
To be perfectly honest, it's difficult to write about Atlas as a major improvement from the prior EP, especially with four tracks on the album being off the EP, but it's because the band have left little room for improvement -- the sound already seemed so perfected. One noticeable and significant improvement, though, is the passionate lyrics; the vocals are much clearer now too, allowing better appreciation for Yamil Velez's innovative lyrics. Andy Jackson (of Hot Rod Circuit) can't be faulted whatsoever for the production here.
We'll I've shrugged off this skin and I'm ready to live and transform into a force that's beyond their reachWrapped around melodies yet pumped at you like a million surrounding voices, "The Citadel" is, still, undoubtedly their best track: a typical Lipona intro gradually descending you into a tornado of melodic guitar work until the pistol signals 'go' and the thundering feel of the chorus with outstanding backing vocals comes in: "This could make or break us." It's this sound, their own sound, that makes Lipona so special and unique. Try finding any other unsigned acts, any other second release, any first full-length with this strength and, simply, greatness.
Certainly this is a work to be extremely proud of; however, the future sound of Lipona interests me. As mentioned, four of these 10 tracks aren't new (they do rock though enough to re-record them, plus every band has demos) and the majority of the other tracks don't seem to break onto any major new and exciting turf. Slower songs like "Pressure" and harder tracks such as "Ron Mexico" certainly provide fresh ground for the band and an insight, though they don't rank as high or ultimately possess the power the EP tracks hold.
I wouldn't expect to give a 10/10 to a second release from any band but it definitely provides a great insight. And I can tell that given more time Lipona have the ability to present a dangerously powerful act if they stick on this road and keep working as hard.