SALLOW MOTH – THE LARVAL HOPE: A CONVERSATION WITH SONGWRITER, GARRY BRENTS
Many of us at The Metal Wanderlust have had our minds diabolically besieged and rendered slack-jawed by Sallow Moth’s “The Larval Hope” since its release earlier this year. The follow up to 2018’s “Deathspore”, “The Larval Hope” continues exploring the intricate mythos created by Metal Brainiac troubadour Garry Brents.
The majority of the storyline can be found on the Sallow Moth Bandcamp page, but for the sake of time and understanding, allow me to attempt a short explanation.
The story concerns itself with creatures of nature (Mothlords), and creatures of industry (humans) battling for territory and philosophical dominance across a vast amount of space. Eventually these two groups develop a truce and alliance for the express purpose of fighting off Moss Deceptiva, an evil force hell bent on destroying and controlling both worlds. The Sallow Moth is a creature developed by the alliance to aid in defeating Moss Deceptiva.
It is a fascinating world, created by a man of many talents, whom I was lucky enough to chat with about all things Sallow Moth.
VUK: Okay Garry! Here we go, brother!
I just had a high-volume experience with “Deathspore”. An amazing piece of storytelling and technical death metal on its own. Can you catch us up a bit on the storyline there, and how it leads into “The Larval Hope”?
Garry Brents (GB): “Deathspore” lays the groundwork as a prologue of the conflicts and tensions in The Larval Hope. The Sallow Moth itself hasn’t appeared yet in the “Deathspore” chapter. Merely alluded to.
VUK: So, “Noxious Revival” – an absolutely crushing opening track, by the way – is the beginning of Tyria and Noctal trying to convert everyone and everything to their evil ways?
Slight side note: the guitar riff at about 2:30 is fucking insane!
It’s difficult for me to figure out which route to take with my questioning here! Because I love the story, and I love the Death Metal! I’m sure we’ll cover both.
GB: Thanks! Any route and tangents are welcome.
That is correct, “Noxious Revival” is their malicious attempt to convert and coerce other beings to their way of life (and death). Scavenging planets and mutating other living beings of various hierarchies to become a part of their army.
That riff section is a style that I’ve really enjoyed writing and popping in here and there to slow things down and just let everything breathe and groove.
VUK: Those short sections help a great deal with tension and drama, which I can only imagine is intentional, given the complexities of the story you’re trying to tell. But they make for inspired listening as well!
“Death Mutation vs Metallurgic Summonings” is full of little moments like that. The main riff reminds me a great deal “Hangar 18”, but there is a battle going on here! The music follows suit, which is a glorious bit of chaos! Can you tell me more about both the battle being fought and your range of influences here?
GB: Thank you! And certainly.
The tensions acting out in this song represents the Moss Deceptiva being ambushed by an infiltration unit commissioned by Servym [leader of the humans].
This unit first tried to gather intelligence on a newly infected planet by the Moss Deceptiva. They had an ulterior motive of seeking and retrieving any artifacts or signs of technology which remained on this world.
They were overcome by acidic slime creatures created by the Moss Deceptiva. However, Servym calculated the risk of this unit failing and in doing so sent a secondary unit led by the newly engineered Sallow Moth.
This song jumps through a range of influences and sounds to represent the ebb and flow of the battles. A lot of early 90’s progressive DM like Pestilence, Atheist, and Cynic channelled through in varying degrees.
That beginning riff was definitely a callback to a more mid-paced traditional metal sound, a straightforward, yet effective exuberance that will show itself again in spots on the upcoming album.
VUK: Ah, the first appearance of the Sallow Moth!
“The Larval Hope (Piercer of Spells)” starts off as a march of sorts. Triumphant and melodic, more like an At The Gates vibe, musically, slowing down to another fantastic sludgy riff.
This is an incredibly dramatic moment!
The music and the lyrics fit so, so well: “The winged eclipse fills the sky The prized apparatus leads the fight Rise Pierce Piercing through Noctai’s spells, unhinged…”
He catches Moss Deceptiva off guard, allowing Servym’s crew to escape. At which point the music sort of drifts in space for a moment. A transition I’d imagine was a challenge!
GB: That start was certainly inspired by the likes of At The Gates and the melodic side of Dismember.
That transition to space was a bit of a creative challenge since that kind of environment in a story is wide open with options. But I knew that their escape wouldn’t be an easy one, nor a foolproof one, which leads into the next track, crash landing onto a primitive planet (which has its own tumultuous backstory).
VUK: Fantastic! That track (“Temporal Trespass”) has more of an old school Death Metal vibe overall, but certainly has its own atmosphere, jam packed with transitions and interludes. Another very complex tune.
You can really hear the intertwined nature/technology fighting for equal ground.
Can you tell me more about that backstory? Seems to be partially needed to understand “Ancient Grudge”.
Yes, I wanted to channel a more primitive Death Metal vibe, not quite primitive as proto DM in the 80’s but just more of a brutish energy and aggression to build up the story’s conflict as it’s happening.
It’s noted that centuries ago Servym ordered a deep-space explorative ship (the Scry) to find planets with any signs of life, in hopes to eventually mark them for terraforming. This flashback in the story on Bandcamp sheds some light on Servym’s capitalistic expeditions.
“Ancient Grudge” goes back and forth between this flashback of this planet and the present time. It’s a revenge type of song presenting that some of the crew (some human, some android) from the flashback remained on this planet and assimilated to the natives after being left behind and abandoned in a cowardly fashion by Servym.
Present time, this group of androids and descendants of the humans reproach Sallow Moth and its crash-landed crew due to the obvious Servym-branded markings on their ship. This causes a whole other set of tensions and battles, which hopefully shines through to the listener and correlates to the pace changes in the musical aspect of the song.
VUK: It does, indeed! Starting at about the 1-minute mark, actually.
It almost sounds like a different vocalist saying “Prey pursued, prey subdued None survive, bodies dissolve”, but that’s an awesome groove, which changes pretty quickly into chaos. This is presumably just before Servym realizes the situation he’s in.
And, thanks to your description, the “fallen and abandoned, crawling steel” would be the assimilated androids Servym has left behind, all about to get real nasty!
GB: Right on the nose on both accounts.
Going into this album I wanted to try an array of vocal styles just to increase and emphasise the expressivity of the story. It sometimes indeed sounds like different vocalists! I typically mix the different vocal styles with different approaches as well, which likely accentuates that perception of multiple vocalists. This becomes more prevalent on the next album as well! However, I do have 2 friends/guest vocalists making spot appearances to offer some wild vocal textures I couldn’t do.
VUK: I’m envisioning a female vocalist on this next chapter, as towards the end of “Glimpse The Unthinkable” Noctai and Tyria show up.
Hopefully I’m following the story properly, but it stands to reason these two would have something to say, given the events of the final song from “The Larval Hope”.
So much happens, that song alone seems to have three acts:
1) Servym dies
2) The Sallow Moth (or Cocoon Subject Zero) rallies what’s left of the crew, as they turn tail and run, then
3) Noctai & Tyria arrive on the planet, only to find a warning left by Sallow Moth.
And three very distinct shifts in soundscape are present in those final moments. Including a very nice melodic guitar solo, which is fitting, given the events.
GB: I won’t reveal now but it will surely be a consistent vocal texture throughout the album as a backing atmosphere for the most part.
A lot definitely happens on that song to represent a climactic shift in the story and the overall mythos moving forward.
An unimaginable form of magic manifests in the Sallow Moth, a power overload, if you will. It single handedly wipes out a lot of existence in the galaxy, leaving the Mothfolk and animals untouched entirely, but clearing the Moss Deceptiva, and chunks of humanity and androids alike. This cathartic and almost nonchalant act brings the album to a close, a cliffhanger to bridge to the next album ‘’Stasis Cocoon’’. There will be some surprises in the story line.
VUK: Well, I’m sufficiently excited!
And “Stasis Cocoon” will be out before the end of the year on Tridroid Records?
GB: Yes! Tentative release for late 2020. Possible for mid-Fall. Tridroid Records, a champion for social justice, is a great label deserving of more attention.
VUK: Are you still doing Cara Neir as well?
GB: Still doing Cara Neir. We’ve got an EP under way currently.
VUK: Also very exciting!
I think we’ve covered “The Larval Hope” very well (unless I’m leaving something out you’d like to chat about). I think doing a follow up when “Stasis Cocoon” is ready for folks to listen to would be cool. Just carry on our conversation right where we left off here.
Where are you drawing inspiration from in that regard, by the way? Storytelling-wise.
GB: Right on!
I think that summed up everything I wanted to talk about and am totally down for a revisit when “Stasis Cocoon” is out.
A large portion of my inspiration comes from Magic The Gathering, where one could even view my ‘multiverse’ as a fan-fiction extension of their multiverse! Another huge inspiration is Swamp Thing.
Look forward, if you will, to part two of my conversation with Garry in the months to come. In the meantime, go listen to “Deathspore” and “The Larval Hope” over and over. Just try not to become addicted to those records!