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Live Report: The Atlas Moth, Royal Thunder, and Mirrors for Psychic Warfare @ Saint Vitus

The Atlas Moth. Photo credit: Chris Harrington
The Atlas Moth. Photo credit: Chris Harrington

The Atlas Moth docked into Saint Vitus on Friday night with some momentum. The Chicago-based quintet’s fourth full-length Coma Noir is chock full of propulsion, darkness, and speed, blending a new and definitive edge into the band’s already adventurous repertoire. There is a more grounded base now to the group’s flighty aspirations, and this updated version is both sharp and freeing.

Saint Vitus was thicker than usual Friday night. Royal Thunder and Mirrors for Psychic Warfare also performed; the total dimension of art was flowing free in beer suds and tour sweat — the atmosphere like a shifted hue, a crack in the space-time continuum.

Scott Kelly (Neurosis) and Sanford Parker’s Mirrors for Psychic Warfare project was a misty jaunt along the perimeter of said continuum. The duo’s sound is equal parts noise, electronics, and future-doom: reverberating with a sense of encampment for one’s emotion. The band are adept at creating a vast space to lock onto, where colors represent pulses, and musical surges come in slow mountainous waves. The sound is angular while still maintaining an organic and earthy quality.

Like Neurosis, there is a sense of spirituality and tradition mixed with a sort of sci-fi escapism, and Kelly provides the chunk and stomp to it. Parker, a Chicago-based producer, musician, and engineer, is the atmosphere king. His electronic work is spatial and visionary. The two are interlocked for maximum galaxy travel. Creating life where life did not exist before, the two swirled a deep soup of black holes and quasars, a joy to behold.

It seems like every time I come to Saint Vitus, Royal Thunder are playing. The band tours non-stop and they wear the mileage on their sleeves. I saw the group in 2011 touring for their debut CVI. While that album was pretty good, they were a force to be reckoned with live: a raw, bluesy punk band with a singer, Mlny Parsonz, who could belt. I was pretty psyched. So far, the pattern has continued. The band puts out respectable albums, but never quite matching the ferocity and realness the group showcases in a live setting.

And the people love that live show. Saint Vitus was packed tight for their performance, with whooping and headbanging galore. It was typical Royal Thunder: tactile, heightening and rich in minerals. The group are road warriors, and akin to the old jazz and blues musicians in their directness and spirit. The quartet ended with fans calling for “one more song, one more song.”

The Atlas Moth was wide in appearance. They turned Saint Vitus into their own special space station. Light beams like the 1980s sparkled and flashed as the band tore through their set with craft and guile. At times punishing, the group was able to play through their zones with sequences of funk, progression, and color, a psychedelic prominence throughout. With this added new heaviness to their arsenal, the band has a foundation that fills in gaps more soundly. When extending, sections seem that much more twisted and serene, capable of directing movements precisely. Atlas Moth has always played well to their abstractions, and now they’re more powerful than ever, able to dictate their connections and power points more fully.

This band has always been particular. I saw them at New England Metal and Hardcore Fest a few years ago, and they were easily the most indifferent and exciting: a band capable of walking its own path. Interestingly, Coma Noir moves slightly towards a more common and digestible sound, but it works wonders. After all, they do it without losing any of their essential conviction. This is still abstract Atlas Moth.

Friday night, they lifted high, and they swam in waters from the sky.

Saint Vitus. Photo credit: Chris Harrington
Saint Vitus. Photo credit: Chris Harrington

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