Reviewed: March 2018
Released: 2018 Prosthetic Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
From the few times I have heard them – and seeing them once opening for the Devin Townsend Project – I remember Chicago’s The Atlas Moth being a heavy band. But I never recall them being this metal!
They struck me as more of a sludgy, stonery sort of band that played low and slow, with a hint of psychedelia to make it all just a bit trippy. The quintet’s fourth album, however, takes a pronounced step into something far more post/doom metal – and brings quite a bit of thunder with it along the way. Coma Noir rocks like nobody’s business, as evidenced right out of the gate by the title track, with its stutter-step tempo and the cascading riffage from the three-headed guitar monster of frontmen Stavros Giannopoulos and David Kush and Andrew Ragin, who also handles synth/electronic duties.
The guitar sound here is just massive, with studio veteran Sanford Parker taking over as producer and really helping The Atlas Moth muscle up behind the always imposing vocal back and forth of Giannopoulos and Kush. Even more achingly deliberate tracks like “Furious Gold” or “The Streets of Bombay” shudder under the weight of their hulking riffs, whereas the more limber “Smiling Knife,” “Last Transmission From The Late, Great Planet Earth” and the monumental “The Frozen Crown” add layers of serpentine interplay, all of which take the band’s heaviness to a whole other level, sounding a bit like a cross between old Deftones and Cult of Luna.
New drummer Mike Miczek, also of gore metal titans Broken Hope, brings some extra heft with him as well. His friskier, occasionally propulsive back beats and fills provide additional space for the guitars to do their thing, as on the aforementioned title track and “Actual Human Blood.” As weighty as Coma Noir is, it never feels ponderous, and Miczek has a lot to do with that – even if there is nary a blast beat to be found.
There remains an element of psychedelia here in the wispy synths of “Galactic Brain” and the spacey intros to “The Streets of Bombay” and the otherwise smothering closer “Chloroform” – which concludes with the freaky sax wails of Yakuza’s Bruce Lamont. But it is far less prominent than it was as The Atlas Moth opted for bombast over atmosphere this time around. And while that may be a bit jarring for some, particularly the band’s stonier fans, the transition is done with such purpose and confidence that Come Noir is as triumphant as it is titanic.