The Atlas Moth – The Old Believer – 9/10
-Another band that had a lot to prove, in my mind, because their previous album An Ache For the Distance was one of my favorite albums of 2013 (even though it was released in 2011, I didn’t get around to fully hearing it until I saw them open for Gojira and Devin Townsend). My initial reaction to the album was instantly directed to the simple and elegant, and at the same time powerful and memorable artwork, which is what they were able to do with the artwork on the previous album as well. As for the music, this album contains so much atmosphere, so much emotion, and so many memorable melodies. To sum it up, this album contains all of my favorite things and these elements combined produce a winning combination. The album has a call and response feel between the shrieks which feel like anger and frustration when pared with the deep clean vocals that feel sorrowful and mournful. Add this over driving guitar melodies in octaves or sometimes even in countermelodies, excellent drumming throughout, a bass and keyboard that add subtle but powerful notes into the mix perfectly, and influences from psychedelic music, and you’ve got one of my favorite albums of the year. The album picks up right away with “Jet Black Passenger”. The first riff is heavy and is perfect for headbanging. The duel vocals begin 30 seconds in. From there, the album goes through great riff and melody after great riff and melody. Much like the Fen and Pallbearer releases from this year, this album is a journey and takes you through the riffs at a steady pace. Often times riffs will be repeated so there is a structure going on, but it strays away from typical verse chorus verse structures and instead moves along nicely from song to song. “Collider” picks up the pace a bit. “The Sea Beyond” is one of the most emotional tracks on the album, and one of my favorites. “Halcyon Blvd” builds up throughout the piece. “Sacred Vine” has a prog element amidst all of the sludge/doom guitar riffs. “The Old Believer” continues with the heaviness, and contrasts the beginning of “City of Light” which is one of the more ambient moments on the album before regaining its pace from the previous tracks. “Wynona” has some really dark moments, which will please the fans of the heavier moments. “Hesperian” starts off ambient like “City of Light” did, and it is moments like these that remind me most of the previous album. Finally, “Blood Will Tell” repeats vocal melodies and lyrics and its fades out and helps give the album as a whole a good closure. I got to hear many of these songs live before the album was released when I saw them open for The Ocean and Scale the Summit, and have a hard time not imagining them in that kind of setting when I listen to the studio album. They just translate to a live setting that well. It was one of my favorite albums early in the year when I had first listened to it, and it continued to stay there for the rest of the year.