The Atlas Moth and Fu Manchu

We review “Coma Noir” and “Clone of the Universe” experimental metallers The Atlas Moth and stoner rock stalwarts Fu Manchu.


Coma Noir – The Atlas Moth

It’s difficult to know where to start with an album like this that throws so much at the wall. The latest release from the Chicago based progressive symphonic melodic electro-doomcore band (or promcore as we like to call it, to be honest why would you try and call it anything) finds an angry place within all those elements and then like a shit-slinging monkey, grabs handfuls of each element, splats them on a wall and seemingly creates a Turner.

I have to admit, I’ve come at this album completely cold, having not heard any of their previous releases and I’m sure the simile does The Atlas Moth a disservice because I think what they have crafted from the disparate fragments they bring together is wonderful. The whole album is brilliantly varied, both within songs and from song to song. The Atlas Moth move between thick doomy riffing towards a hint of southern rock stomp before spreading out with electronic parts that for a second brought Perturbator to mind, then changing up with a few wailing guitar lines, then blowing it apart and bring it together again in a different combination. All the while the twin vocal attack dances through the madness, with white hot hardcore vocals playing off against the unsettling slightly off-kilter clean vocals (which brought to mind Akercocke’s latest album). “Chloroform” the album’s climax is horrendously claustrophobic and reminiscent of NIN and Neurosis at their best.

There’s a lot to chew threw here and I feel like with 4 or 5 listens I’ve barely scratched the surface of all this album has to offer but I’m gonna put it out there and say its an early 2018 album of the year contender for me and I can see enjoying it even more with each listen.

Verdict: Insufficient breakdowns, but loads of everything else

Clone of the Universe – Fu Manchu

It’s become a massive clichĂ© to invoke the name of Helmet when making references to riffing, but it’s difficult not too when “Intelligent Worship” is so clearly invoking the spirit of Unsung. From then on though we’re on safe stoner territory here. Fu Manchu are heavyweights of the desert/stoner rock scene and this addition to their canon has an interesting property.

It effectively plays like an old vinyl LP of two sides with the first side made up of six shortish tracks. “Don’t Panic” is the standout track for me, upping the tempo and packing a punch with some nice guitar and drum fills but it’s all good stuff that will slots nicely into a live set and doesn’t reinvent the wheel.

The real magic of this album though is the contrast of the first side with the second side and all that the second side has to offer. It consists of one, mostly instrumental, 18-minute track called “Il Mostro Atomico” with contributions from Rush’s Alex Lifeson (himself no stranger to epics with Rush’s 2112 Overture clocking in at a stately 21-minutes). It’s a masterpiece of slow burn rock music constructed in a similar way to a classical composition. There are 4 movements build around simple guitar riffs which meld into each other. And simplicity is the key to the beauty here. The bass, drums and lead guitar and sound effects from Lifeson support the theme but then alter proceedings with subtle variations and fills in each repetition, building up something wonderfully rich and complex in layers. It really is a piece to get lose yourself in and I think it will be unbelievable to see live.

Also it ends with the same guitar riff with which it starts, allowing the committed stoner to get stuck in an inescapable infinite repeat loop.

Verdict: Insufficient breakdowns but glorious headbanging opportunities early, followed by a stoner rock magnum opus.

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