Nearly everything about The Atlas Moth screams new school doom, from their Chicago origins to their triply-guitared lineup (which is excessive until you consider how often the third guitar is used more as a noisemaker than an instrument and how often recordings feature multiple tracks anyway) to their silhouetted promo photos to their oceanic references to their screams to their pace. They couldn’t be more Windy City if they took up residence at Sanford Parker‘s Volume Studio and started serving deep-dish pizza to the tens of thousands of bands who seem to record there every week.
You could easily call it a wall of sound The Atlas Moth create with their debut EP, Pray for Tides (Witch Trial Records). They go from the tasteful lead that opens “Hope for Atlantis” immediately into visceral screaming and riff out underneath tapped lines and crashing mid-paced drums. The tempo stays up for the most part — they never really get slow, which I take as a demonstration of their age, but in the new school of doom speed doesn’t seem to matter so long as the atmosphere is crushing, which it undeniably is on these five tracks.
“Procession: Warning of the Ancients” juxtaposes thrashy swagger with bearded Mastodonian riffing and some more semi-melodic vocals from guitarist/vocalist/synth player Andrew, and guitarist/vocalists Dave and Stavros. The middle finger cut, “Beyond the Palace Walls,” is basically a minute of ambience that serves as an intro for the title track, which might be the loudest-sounding of the bunch. Pray for Tides sounds dirty but not underproduced, and the balance is most effective here.
The untitled closer cuts the speed and manages to throw in some of the atmospherics from “Beyond the Palace Walls” with an Opeth-style clean-guitar-into-heavy-solo transition around 2:40. Pray for Tides crests, goes out with far-off guitar noise (there’s some tapping in there, but it fades away) and is over in a short 18 minutes. There won’t be too much to thrill jaded heads looking for someone to recapture Pentagram‘s early glories, but younger doomers could do much worse.
I’m somewhat underwhelmed following all the buzz I heard about them before I actually listened, how they’re “the hugest this” and “the heaviest that,” but this sound is trendy now and thus easy for reviewers to be excited about. I chalk my ambivalence up to the general overexposure of the Chicago scene more than to anything specific The Atlas Moth does or doesn’t do to thrill, and either way, I’ll still be interested to see what they do for a full-length.
Tags: Chicago, New school doom, The Atlas Moth, Witch Trial Records