After releasing an independent album in 1995, Athenaeum signed to Atlantic Records and began working with producer Gavin MacKillop on their major label debut, RADIANCE. Hailed as one of the best releases of 1998 by BILLBOARD, editor Timothy White said RADIANCE featured songs that were "destined, with any justice, to take their place among the biggest modern rock radio smashes to arrive on the threshold of the new millennium."
RADIANCE’S first single, "What I Didn't Know," peaked at number 9 on BILLBOARD’S Modern Rock chart. The second single, "Flat Tire," peaked at 28, and the song "Unnoticed" appeared in the movie VARSITY BLUES. Athenaeum’s rise plateaued during the promotion of RADIANCE and towards the end of 1998, guitarist Grey Brewster left the group, to be replaced by Mike Garrigan.<br><br>For their sophomore effort, Athenaeum endured a more challenging recording process. By the record's completion, drummer Nic Brown would also depart, replaced by Jeremy Cannon. Without promotion, the new record was released just after the September 11th attacks, and by year's end, the band was dropped from Atlantic. Although the group continued to play well-attended shows, their momentum had slowed considerably.<br><br>Athenaeum's final offering was HOURGLASS, a compilation of rarities and demos. In 2004, the band held a farewell show, briefly reuniting with past members to say goodbye.