Combine my initial glance at the album artwork with the first track, “Noxious Revival,” I became worried that Sallow Moth’s The Larval Hope was going be a record that I heavily disliked. My first impressions were that of an early Opeth albeit less in style but more in using musicianship as a storytelling device. “But, why would that be negative? Opeth has plenty of fans!” Sadly, I’m not among them as I find much of their work meandering and pretentious but luckily that feeling isn’t present with Sallow Moth.
Sometimes you hear something in the music and recognize that it isn’t simple an album, but a labour of love. It is apparent that the latter is the case for sole member Garry Brents who, aside for a couple of guests, handles everything: drums, guitar, bass, vocals, writing, arrangement, recording, production. Clearly taking primary influence from old school death metal (OSDM) such as Pestilence and Atheist, Brents also maintains a clear vision not only for the musical representation but also for a detailed (although confusingly convoluted a-la Wormed) storyline. The lyrical basis for the project which is summarized as being about “conflicts between celestial humanoid nature-preserving moths, tech-obsessed human/android civilization hungry for space colonization, and a defected faction of moths who mutated into malicious scavengers & sorcerers who thrive on chaos.”Yeah, I don’t quite get it either.
To have such an overarching vision for a musical project can sometimes be daunting and prone to failure, especially as a solo project. yet Sallow Moth pulls it off wonderfully. Take the title track, “The Larval Hope (Piercer of Spells)” which starts off with a very straight ahead, accessible rhythm in a steady and solid OSDM style that provides a feeling of importance and urgency. It then slows and evolves into a more sinister sound, portraying a shift in the storyline to a worry of self-preservation. To be able to elicit a listener’s specific response primarily through songwriting rather than lyrics, because, let’s be honest, even the most tenured metalhead can’t always decipher lyrics, is a difficult task. Sallow Moth is able to achieve this beautifully.
For such an immense project being handled by one VERY talented guy (and I must note, the production and mixing on this is solid) is impressive. It’s even more impressive that Sallow Moth has opted to donate half of the profits from the sale of The Larval Hope to charity. That’s how you know this is a labour of love, and one that I believe deserves some attention and support. If you have a half hour to spare and have any interest in either OSDM, progressive death metal, or lyrical storylines influenced by sci-fi, Lovecraftian horror, and/or fantasy, then sit down and give The Larval Hope a solid listen. I may not understand the storyline at all, but I’m curious to hear how the next chapter may play out.
Written by Ted Berger
*edited by Danielle Kenedy