Review Summary: Rise of the lepidoptera.
Death metal’s transformation has been consistently turbulent over the course of the last three decades. Pioneers have come, gone and returned - launching quality releases that spread over the typical confines of the genre and shared in moments of innovation that would inspire many more acts to follow. But for all death metal’s flaws, imitators and hype train dependency, the genre has pushed forward into many variations of the same thing. Sallow Moth, which features Cara Neir mastermind Gary Brents, however takes the inspiration of death metal’s heavyweights and brings imaginative moth-based story-telling his own decidedly un-Cara Neir death metal jaunt. Moths? Well yeah. Given that but a few years ago metalheads everywhere were on their knees worshiping slug-metallers Slugdge’s Esoteric Malacology
(and if you haven’t the foggiest what I’m on about here it’s more than worth the time and the context boost) the avant-fantasy storyline becomes quite simpler to digest - a feature made even more commendable by the album’s very digestible thirty-two minute run time.
The Laval Hope
’s particular style however is a molten collection of heavyweights that seemingly diversify in repeated listens. In this regard Sallow Moth lean heavily on the discordant soundscapes found in the likes of Cynic and Dismember but the act’s penchant for sound miscellany propels them past the legions of modern death metal acts all glued to the same formulation of riffs and growls. The lumbering start found in “Noxious Revival” turns quickly into a deafening march, chock full of solid percussive moments and peppered with fills, but it’s the use of dissonant melody that becomes almost catchy, tying in both contextual album theme and instrumentality. An echoing flurry of notes melt into a tasteful guitar solo and the listener becomes deeply invested in Sallow Moth’s tales of fantastic lepidopterology.
Brent’s naturality for changing tempos within songs also adds to the record’s ability to be played repeatedly without creating too much ear fatigue. “The Laval Hope (Piercer of Shells)” moves from a typical death metal onslaught to that of a track built with heavy doom in mind. It’s another point to the record’s overall diversity combining the album’s titular effort with “Temporal Trespass” into a massive one-two punch of modern death metal. Sure, some of the tempo and style changes found during The Laval Hope
’s run time often lend themselves to a realm of off-kilter, occasionally spacious bearings but each track is highly approachable death metal. It’s a feature further complemented by being listened to in one sitting - context in mind.
As “Glimpse the Unthinkable” wraps up the album’s thirty-two minute run time, Sallow Moth looks to close this particular moth-filled chapter. Despite being the longest of the album’s compositions, the song returns to death metal’s pioneering sound foundations. This gives The Laval Hope
a wholesome, "close of cycle" feel even as the track moves to minimalistic beats and ringing chord progressions. Gary Brents screams and rather Demilich-ian growls remain equally vicious over the course of the group’s 2020 release ensuring that The Laval Hope
stays fierce from it’s less than humble beginnings to the precipice and closure of its final, more resounding moments.