Interview: Garry Brents Sallow Moth/Cara Neir/Gonemage

Last year, Garry Brents released “The Larval Hope,” which was the first full length Sallow Moth record, and it made a huge impression on us here at TMW. Garry was kind enough to have a yack with me about the album, and we dug deep into the mythology and some of the different influences that helped make “The Larval Hope” such a beast. At the time Garry knew quite a bit about the follow up, which he revealed would be called “Stasis Cocoon,” and we agreed to meet up again to chat about the continual adventures of the Sallow Moth.

What ended up being a bit of a shocker was that Garry not only released “Stasis Cocoon” in 2021, but a Sallow Moth split with Vmthanaachth, two LP’s with Cara Neir, and two LP’s with Cara Neir spin-off project Gonemage. To tell you the truth, I’m not even sure the man is done yet! Holy shit, that’s a lot of output! So, naturally, when Garry and I got the chance to chat again, a discussion about “Stasis Cocoon” barely scratched the surface.

Grab a seat, folks! You’re about to find out just a little bit about what makes this dude tick.

VUK: Hey man. Sorry it took a bit to get back to you. I’m slowly getting things back on track! And I saw that you released more Sallow Moth!! A split. Is that part of the Sallow Moth mythos from the last three albums, or the start of a new adventure?

Garry Brents (GB): No problem man. Yeah! Ended up fleshing out a quick little split with a local friend’s experimental outfit. So those three songs on the split are more of an aside, little side stories of small excursions away from the album storyline. Still connected but a one-off backstory. 

VUK: With all of your recent output, I’ve sort of gotten lost!  Catch us up a little bit, conceptually here. Where does “Stasis Cocoon” find the Sallow Moth, Moss Deceptiva, Noctai and Tyria… What’s happening?

GB: With “Stasis Cocoon,” it directly resumes after the cataclysmic ending of “The Larval Hope.” The Sallow Moth itself exhibited a power so great that it essentially turned itself off, so to speak. A hidden failsafe was built within its core in the event that its power exceeded beyond a certain level. 

The Moss Deceptiva, Novato, and Tyria were all disintegrated into subatomic versions of themselves. Essentially nonexistent, for now. Servym came to be a clone decoy on “The Larval Hope’s” ending, as if he predicted things would escalate to an uncontrollable situation. So, the real Servym imprisoned the Sallow Moth in a stasis cocoon of sorts on a desolate prison planet, made with the help and reluctance of Mothfolk and darker forms of magic through a rogue illusory mage named Ja-Sei (not much backstory on him on the album, but down the road.) 

This album carries Servym’s colonial mindset of taking over remaining Mothfolk and mindslavering them into machines. He successfully does it but the Sallow Moth, even imprisoned, begins to wake up from its coma and eventually sends a distress signal into the cosmos. It’s almost completely unaware of what happened in “The Larval Hope,” just traces of the battles and turmoil flash in memories, but does not remember what happened when it wiped out a lot of existence. 

Through this dazed distress call, a ship of space pirate Merfolk picks up the signal. They’re skeptical of it but ultimately decide to venture to this prison planet out of curiosity. They learn that it’s the Sallow Moth in need and trying to break free of its cocoon, especially knowing that Ja-Sei’s pupils and Servym’s androids are guarding, both of whom they despise. They manage to help the Sallow Moth break free and since it’s weakened, they quickly flee the planet. At the behest of the Sallow Moth, they begin a search for all remaining life. Album ends there on a cliffhanger.

VUK: With all of that going on, it’s not surprising then how close the music on “Stasis Cocoon” resembles tech-death. I’m reminded of Edge of Sanity and Cryptic Shift, but also you’ve got the old school HM-2 sound going on, which makes me think of Entombed, Dismember, and Grave. It’s almost like Sallow Moth itself is a project from another dimension! In fact, on “Fevered Dreams,” there’s almost a Hardcore feeling a bit like Converge. 

Not that “Stasis Cocoon” is a huge musical departure from “The Larval Hope,” but it certainly has more of an epic feeling overall. What was your mindset like as far as influences go this time around?

GB: Thanks! Definitely an array of death metal sounds swirling together on this album, and most certainly a grindy hardcore tinge on “Fevered Visions.” Going into this album, I knew I wanted to expand the palette for this project. Nothing too far out there, but reaching into my other influences in heavy music. Possibly a notion that carries on to whatever I’ll be doing next for Sallow Moth.

VUK: More guitar solos from Armando Puente, I hope! His appearance on “The Larval Hope,” though brief, is quite memorable. “Stasis Cocoon” sees him branch way out! It’s almost like an additional voice. Can you tell me more about the work Armando does for Sallow Moth, and will he be back for future installments? 

GB: Armando really shined on this album. I was glad to have him come back for more. He’s been a long time childhood friend of mine and we grew up together learning instruments, so we’ve always had a connection there. He will certainly be back for more solo features in the future.

VUK: Another concept that comes up in “Fevered Dreams,” this time as a lyric, is this

 “The mind can only expand so far before it flies apart.” 

This is, perhaps, partially true and partly metaphorical in real life as well as fiction. Within the mythos you’ve created, and within science fiction in general, the expansion of the mind via an expanding understanding of the universe is a hot topic. And musically, with the direction “Stasis Cocoon” has taken, the boundaries you’re pushing seem so subtle at times, but during a song like “Phantasmal Sphere of the Shadomage Infiltrator,” all bets are off! There’s so much going on in that song, it makes me think you’re challenging our understanding of extreme Metal as a songwriter. Throwing in bits of Death with bits of Paganizer over top of a deep sci-fi soundscape. Absolute brilliance! What is happening during “Phantasmal Sphere…”?

GB: I’m glad you brought that up. It’s an interesting notion to think about and attempt to understand and perceive, as the mind itself is unknowingly profound.

“Phantasmal Sphere” certainly felt like a journey for me to write, more in that song than the others. It’s kind of the climactic creative point of the album where it breaks down to this Death Metal take on traditional heavy metal in feel and cadence, eventually ramping up into this melodic sci-fi soundscape of action and intensity. Overall, I think it was a bit of a challenge to one’s understanding of extreme Metal. And that’s the beauty of this music, that there’s really no limits in the songwriting.

VUK: Oh, yes. That’s absolutely true! It surprises me sometimes how easily a musician or a group of musicians can end up setting unnecessary limits on themselves. Do you think there is a lack of understanding in THAT, or possibly the cost of experimentation may seem too high for some?

GB: I think there’s a combination of both but probably more so the latter. I think most like to play it safe, which I understand from a business perspective. Upholding a sound that garnered specific attention to a given band or artist. It’s an interesting creative dilemma. I feel that Sallow Moth usually adheres to being my Death Metal project, without any doubt, but my scatterbrain of pulling in other influences certainly pulls into the project from time to time.

VUK: Your other projects (Cara Neir and Gonemage) certainly don’t slouch in the experimentation department either. Between those two projects and Sallow Moth, you’ve released five albums this year alone! Two of which are EP’s, but still… that’s a lot of output! You’re working with, essentially, two story lines. The Cara Neir/Gonemage 8-bit stuff, and obviously the Sallow Moth mythos. Does having these stories worked out mythologically help when it comes to writing all of the music? And then by extension, does the music help inspire how some of the stories play out? They seem quite interconnected. I can’t imagine that it’s terribly easy to navigate. 

GB: I’ve certainly been busy this year! More than ever. With more to come before the year ends, I’ve gotten into such a groove of creation that it’s tough to stop, so long as the inspiration is there. The stories and mythos for all three projects have a big hand in inspiring the music creation process, to ensure that I’m keeping the foot on the pedal. This year has definitely been all about that type of process. 

In the past, it’s usually music first and then themes/art/concept coming afterwards. I think with the extra time I’ve had working from home the past year and a half has had a huge role in how my creation process developed for the output I’ve had in 2021. Overall, it’s been a compartmentalization of navigating the three projects. There are some weeks where I’m hyper focused on one and don’t even think of the other two, giving attention to whatever it is I’m currently working on 100%. Then gears shift as needed.

VUK: Well, it certainly seems as though you’ve turned all of the negativity of the past year and a half (in and out of isolation, as the virus does its damage, etc) into a very positive thing, as far as your creative output goes.Fans of your work aren’t going to complain any, that’s for sure!

Tell us a little bit more about the upcoming Gonemage followup. How many guest musicians are you up to now?

GB: For sure. I’ve tried to make the best of the circumstances, at least from my perspective, and put much of my free time into music, supporting good causes, and other independent musicians. 

The follow up Gonemage is a continuation of the first release where my character is vaulted with the task of curating and tending a dream realm. He squares up with an unscrupulous character known as the Dust Merchant, one who collects souls by way of dreams and sells/batters them as dust in video game cartridges. My character essentially banished this villain from this particular realm but in doing so, he becomes corrupted and addicted to an accessory (a mystical paintbrush) given to him by the entity who brought him here (The Curator). This album goes through those motions as he’s getting carried away with the power of the paintbrush, creating pixelated animals, humans, other beings as a form of entertainment but mostly companionship at first. This all leads to him gaining the ability to venture out of this realm to locate The Curator for guidance and finds her tending to a realm known as Delirium, a sort of purgatory for people who get stuck in dreams and she tries to help them get back to reality. Album ends there as a cliffhanger to lead into what the third album will unfold. 

31 guests is what I managed to gather! Mostly all a few lines of vocal jabs to thicken up parts and a few with “lead” vocal parts.

VUK: So, to sum up this year (so far) you’ve put out two Sallow Moth EP’s (one being the split), a Sallow Moth LP, two Cara Neir LP’s and two Gonemage LP’s. Over 30 guest musicians, and at least two completely different original mythologies to keep up with. I gotta tell ya, Garry… this amazes me!

GB: Thank you! And just the one Sallow Moth EP/split this year since the other was at the tail end of last year. But correct on everything else. It’s been a wild ride separating and maintaining the mythologies but at the root of it, it’s been incredibly fun and a creative outlet I’ve never fully embraced until lately.

VUK: Well, I think it’s great! You’re a Heavy Metal storyteller, my friend! Kinda makes me think graphic novels would be a killer Garry Brents project. Or an actual RPG. Or both!

GB: Thanks! Would love to do either one day! Graphic novel likely the more attainable medium initially.

VUK: Okay, I’ve got one more very important question: 

In what alternate reality would the characters from Cara Neir, Gonemage, and Sallow Moth find themselves in coinciding predicaments? And, if such a reality exists, what do you imagine that would sound like?

GB: Great question. So eventually some crossover will happen with Cara Neir and Gonemage but in a steady incremental development. But if somehow all three collided, it would probably be under the purview of Sallow Moth’s since there’s infinite amount of multiverses for that lore, perhaps some phenomenon of finding a loophole that reaches the other two’s realities (which are somewhat connected already). The sound of that would be pretty varied and massive I imagine. Likely a death metal foundation just with more room for experimentation and off-kilter sections. More electronics, ambience, and even more variation in the vocals.

VUK: Just the idea of that… there are so many possibilities! It’s like you said earlier, the beauty of extreme Metal is “that there’s really no limit to the songwriting.” And you prove that time and time again, my friend. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat.

GB: Absolutely! Endless possibilities. And my pleasure as always, my friend.

You can find all of Garry’s music on most streaming services, and on Bandcamp. Keep an eye out, because there’s still time in 2021 for even more Sallow Moth/Cara Neir/Gonemage excellence!

Cheers!

https://sallowmoth.bandcamp.com/

https://caraneir.bandcamp.com/

https://gonemage.bandcamp.com/

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