It’s been a full four years since Chicago’s THE ATLAS MOTH gave us a new record and whilst the saying goes that good thing come to those who wait, that’s not always the case. Still, it’s not like they haven’t been busy – one look at their resumé sees tours with the likes of DEVIN TOWNSEND, BORIS and BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, which although a rather eclectic bunch is no problem for a band that combine sludge, doom, stoner, psychedelia and prog so effortlessly. Fourth album Coma Noir is no different, released today via Prosthetic Records.
As cliché as it is, the journey an album can take you on is a huge factor in this sort of field; sure, some styles benefit from quick, four-minute songs that are perfect on their own but if you’re playing a style of rock or metal like THE ATLAS MOTH, the ability to produce an album one can really sink their teeth into time and time again is a real goal. Mercifully, Coma Noir has that in spades from the big riffs that so gloriously open the record on the title track through to the sinister tones of the closing Chloroform that seem to include mouth organs halfway through as well. In between are seven other huge cuts where the highlights are in an abundance. There’s the gloriously titled Last Transmission of the Late Great Planet Earth with its background synths (beautifully woven by Andrew Ragin) and sonic rivalry to MASTODON, the atmospheric and moving The Streets of Bombay and Smiling Knife, which starts with a serrated punk edge and descends into a dark, post-metal abyss without so much as a startling change or moment of confusion.
Over the top, the dual vocals of David Kush and Stavros GIannopoulos compliment each other well, the scratch and screams of the latter a perfect foil for the melodic and stylish cleans of the former. Additionally, it’s the first album to welcome former BROKEN HOPE drummer Mike Miczek into the fold and he does a sterling job all round, giving rise to the thunder behind the groove-laden Actual Human Blood and the gloom of Furious Gold.
There are two tracks that stand tall above the rest though, if not by much. The first is Galactic Brain which, befitting of the title, delves into psychedelic territory as it opens and, curiously yet brilliantly, seems to include a bit of didgeridoo to boot before the soaring guitars kick in and the songs winds it way into the crushing depths of a colossal stoner riff that would even make CROWBAR quake in their boots. The second is The Frozen Crown; beginning with an almost industrial beat, it’s the cleanest of all the tracks present and the 80’s synth which supports the confident, bouncy chorus incites thoughts of smash show Stranger Things – easy on the ear and one that will put a smile on your face with consummate ease.
This is the sort of album that anyone attending Desertfest would lap up, the only shame being that THE ATLAS MOTH aren’t actually crossing the waters for the festival. But if you like the bands on that bill, especially MONSTER MAGNET and ELDER, you’ll be hard pushed to go wrong with Coma Noir, a real statement of intent from a band looking to set the world alight.
Coma Noir is out now via Prosthetic Records.
Like THE ATLAS MOTH on Facebook.