The Atlas Moth – An Ache For the Distance (Profound Lore Records)

Saturday, 23rd March 2013
Rating: 8/10

Always cool to see a band rebound from a subpar effort and churn out an album worth taking notice of. Such is the case for Chicago’s The Atlas Moth, who on their 2009 A Glorified Piece of Sky effort failed to make an impression in the post-metal field, falling prey to the usual (and sterile) antics of sonic overload minus the melody and above all else, good songs. ‘Tis quite the opposite on An Ache For the Distance, where the band ushers in a mighty melodic swirl, for an album that is at times, immensely captivating.

Three guitarists are employed here, which in most cases, doesn’t provide the results it should. For The Atlas Moth, it’s all about layering, something that is one of the more prevalent traits across the album’s nine tracks. Thus, the trio of guitarists is warranted, especially when they drop in some sultry melodies for lengths at a time on “Coffin Varnish,” which immerses itself in a sprawling tempo that is easy to latch onto. The band still kicks it post metal-style, although the width and overall heaviness of these songs effectively keeps The Atlas Moth out of Isis/Neurosis territory.

The album eventually comes apart at the seams toward the back-end with the mindless and noise-based “Your Calm Waters” and “Horse Thieves”, but it’s a minor quabble given how strikingly effective “Holes in the Desert,” “Gemini” and “An Ache for the Distance” (tracks three through five) are. And singer Stavros Giannopoulos might be the most underrated aspect of the whole operation, finding a way to add some flavor to the songs with discernable, but not super-clean singing, if you catch our drift. More singers in this realm would be wise to follow what Giannopolos is doing.

Had An Ache For the Distance kept up the momentum throughout, we’d no doubt toss this into the pile for best-of 2011 consideration. On the other hand, the real meat of the album is some of the best post-metal (or whatever you want to call it) heard this year. If anything, it’s going to make The Atlas Moth a real force in the Chicago and North American metal scenes. Oh, and naked chicks on the cover are never a band thing when it’s done tastefully. Just sayin’.

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