There’s a new bite to Chicago art rockers The Atlas Moth, a band that’s hung in the clouds of atmosphere for its 11-year career. Coma Noir presents a more angular and heavier version of the quartet, elevating its layers and subtexts mightily. Always known for pushing colors and warmth into a somewhat extreme architecture, the group’s added distinction reflects back profoundly, making songs more concerning and even.
When the band starts soloing in “Last Transmission From The Late, Great Planet Earth,” you can really feel the new elevation. This is an evolved muscle, a strengthened world they’re playing in. The group was always capable of creating sufficient depth to swirl through and ponder headily in. But in the past, it was too much substance, too far of a drift to connect back to. Coma Noir has more focused compositions, the space is dealt with more precisely; there is nothing much wasted here. A song like “Galactic Brain” stays together because of its heightened awareness; it’s ability to see the finish line, and consequently, the totality of its exhibition.
“The Streets of Bombay” is an art dimension, hinting at the band’s doom-ish and visual past, with modern trance and atmosphere derived from its newfound aggression. When sections become their own thing, yet stay within the system that has birthed them, it’s something admirable. The song’s chorus sways with its experimental bent, and the band swings, letting off steam while stoking the record’s total fibers.
“Actual Human Blood” is a metal song with a non-metal heart. Emotion is paramount and the complexity is organic and not flamboyant, making for a sort of river where ideas can ride swiftly and never get hung up. Similarly, “Smiling Knife” floats with precision and tact, balancing the angles and jaunts where the old Atlas Moth might have left this particular universe for good; this version knows when to crawl back and dock its ship. It’s a difficult maneuver, but one the group now seems very capable of making.
This is a new band in a sense, one whose past has certainly made for its future, but one who really enjoys this newfound freedom. A freedom conjured by an intricate attention to detail.