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An Ache for the Desert - 89%

bishoparius, December 11th, 2012

While The Atlas Moth has a bit of a black metal pedigree (guitarist Stavros Giannopolous has done time in super groups Twilight and Chrome Waves, been a touring member of Altar of Plagues, and did some guest vocals for Krieg, while Anthony Mainiero currently drums for both Von an Venien), their second full length release doesn’t really have much to offer in the way of tremolo picking, blast beats, or lo-fi wintery atmospherics, though some particularly blackened shrieks do rear their ugly heads from time to time.

The band seems rather more inclined towards the mid-tempo riffs and deliberate drumming of sludge metal. But that category doesn’t really fit either. Something to do, maybe, with the group’s tendency to have two-if not all three-guitarists spending most of every song wandering around the higher end of their fretboards. The effect of this intricate finger work is unquestionably heavy, but it’s not necessarily brutal. In fact, it can be quite stirring.

And then there’s the vocals, which run the gamut from the aforementioned shrieks, to death metal growls, to almost hardcore bellows, to a gruff but almost soulfully melodic style that falls somewhere on the spectrum between Alice in Chains and Mastodon, assuming such a spectrum exists. These radically alternate vocal styles frequently pop up simultaneously, playing off each other in the same fashion as the guitar lines, frequently to similarly moving effect.

If I had to pick one band that The Atlas Moth remind me the most of, it’d probably be Kyuss, even though I seriously don’t think they particularly sound anything like Kyuss at all, or any other band out there. And to their credit. It’s just that the two acts share a common urge to produce grimy (but not ugly) sunset-over-the-desert soundscapes. Bonus points additionally awarded for what could be the most lovely (if NSFW) album art of the year, marred only slightly as it is by some of the ugliest typesetting.