The Atlas Moth has always straddled the line between sludge, black metal, and psychedelic rock. On their third full length, The Old Believer, the heavier aspects of their music have taken a backseat, and the proggy psychedelia has come to the foreground. Spacey, almost noodly riffs play over pocketed drums and subdued bass. The vocals alternate between a clean, but still agonized baritone, a meditative chant sort of speaking/singing, and screamed vocals, reminiscent of Ihsahn from Emperor. While The Atlas Moth are clearly a metal band, they're not very aggressive, and there's no "br00tal" bullshit going on either. I mean this in the best possible way; there is very little on The Old Believer that I find abrasive. Of course the average person will hear the black metal-esque shrieks and deem it to be "that kill your mother, rape your dog shit", but the band tends to be more focused on atmosphere than riffing your brains out. I've really enjoyed all of their work thus far, and if you're looking to zone out but still listen to something heavy (sorta), they're a great band. If you're looking to get crushed, listen to the new Thou.

One thing that sets The Atlas Moth apart from a lot of the bands who could be described under the giant fucking genre umbrella of doom is that they prefer to get straight to the point with their song writing. I think there's maybe 2 seconds of intro on the album before the riffs immediately kick in. The longest song on the album is a hair over 6 minutes, with no filler. Their song structures remind me more of a space rock band than your typical Cult of Neurisis adherent. The Atlas Moth tend to stray from verse chorus verse without meandering. If you like one track on this album, you're likely going to enjoy the rest of it. I don't think there is a bad song on this. There are a few outstanding ones though. Wynona, City of Light, Blood Will Tell, and Collider are all fantastic songs. However, I can see if someone felt the album lacked dynamic at times. This can be a pitfall of many atmospheric records however, so it doesn't necessarily say anything bad about the band, other than they may not be great for party music.

The riffs are slower but have a lot of movement. Three guitars allows for a lot of cool harmonization, and they really take advantage of that, utilizing a great number of single note driven parts. There isn't a lot of Sabbathian power chord or super riffy stuff going on, and while this may give some people trouble in that they don't really "groove", I think it enables the Atlas Moth to add a lot of melody. The production gives the guitars a full, but spacey sound. It reminds me of a lot of how they sound on Isis's post Panopticon output, or newer Deftones albums, but without any traces of nu. I can't really hear the bass doing anything incredibly interesting, but admittedly, I've got a shit ear for that. The drumming remains in the pocket for much of the album. It's mostly simple, lacking any crazy fills or anything, but it's completely effective, and frankly, anything too flashy would conflict with the near meditative feel most of the album has.

The Old Believer isn't a ridiculous progression from their last album, 2011's An Ache for the Distance. In fact, it reminds me a good deal of their first album, A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky. I'm totally okay with this however. The Atlas Moth is a pretty unique band. They take a progressive approach to a genre that has long become stale. I had a really easy time with this review because I enjoy this album so much, but I had a hard time finding bands I'd consider similar. Intronaut takes a progressive approach to sludge/post metal/whatever in a similar way, but they're still worlds apart. If you liked anything else The Atlas Moth has done, I definitely recommend this. A lot of care was put into this album, including the cover art. When the CD version's booklet has water applied to it, the art changes. When the paper dries again, it reverts to normal.


TLDR: The Atlas Moth is a very unique band, owing as much to Isis as Pink Floyd, to black metal as King Crimson. The Old Believer, while not very different than anything else they've ever done, keeps their track record of making quality atmospheric, psychedelia tinged metal in tact.