Trudge through the murk
In nature, the atlas moth represents a fleeting existence of beauty in aesthetics. Known as one of the largest moths in the world, the atlas moth or, scientifically the Attacus atlas and in Cantonese, “snake’s head moth,” has a lifespan of only a few days; adult atlas moths do not even have mouths to feed of during their being. In ways, Chicago five-piece The Atlas Moth liken their namesake in power, though their sound definitely has more bite than a saturniid sans teeth, and their career is much longer than this moth’s life.
The Atlas Moth encompasses a lot stylistically, from post-metal to sludge to stoner psych rock. At times, they can even vocally teeter on nu metal, but that doesn’t pull away from their brutish disposition. It has been just about five years since The Atlas Moth released their pummeling The Old Believer, and with only one track shared in the time in between, their fourth full-length Coma Noir is exactly the record to make up for all that time lost.
With the addition of Broken Hope drummer Mike Miczek, Coma Noir musically and conceptually fits a city slicker-mafioso mentality, if that city slicker were a metal head. Principal songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Stavros Giannopoulos told local publication Chicago Reader he wrote the lyrics “from the perspective of a cult leader,” and the thematic premise is “basically Maltese Falcon with a horror element” based on a doomsday cult named Coma Noir.
Keeping this in mind when running through the album produces pleasant images of spruce chaps shredding along to songs like the title track, which opens up the album with a one-two combo of Miczek’s fierce drumming, and some master finger picking introduces some of the heavy Metallica influence Giannopoulos floods the album with. It flows seamlessly into “Last Transmission from the Late, Great Planet Earth,” where alternating chord progressions and tempos recall old-school hardcore, before shifting into heavy keyboard instrumentals.
“Actual Human Blood” balances free formed riffs and melodic punky feels before “Furious Gold” comes in with dark tones truer to the band’s sludgy MO. The album ends with “Chloroform,” the hefty amalgamation of every element touched on in its song prior; a uniform package of trampling drumming, savage riffs and aching vocals that make the listener want to trudge through the murk to The Atlas Moth’s next release.
Hopefully, their next album won’t take another five years to see the light. Coma Noir was worth the wait, and probably the band’s best release to date. But if The Atlas Moth is going to top this one, it very well may be a few years in the making.