The Moth Gatherer
The Earth Is The Sky
27th November 2015 – Agonia Records
01. Pale Explosions
02. Attacus Atlas
03. Probing The Descent Of Man
04. Dyatiov Pass
05. The Black Antlers
06. In Awe Before Rapture
The Moth Gatherer‘s debut A Bright Celestial Light dropped in 2013, carving out a niche in angry post-metal with heavy electronic elements. Well-received, it set the tone nicely for future releases. Sludge continues to enjoy a renaissance in 2015 and the Swedish stalwarts have bolstered the ranks of what has already been an excellent year by offering up The Earth Is The Sky.
The Earth Is The Sky delivers a more cohesive, developed effort than their debut, gliding through six tracks of lush, rich textures which sit happily on a playlist with the likes of Ohhms, Cult of Luna and The Ocean. Tracks like opener “Pale Explosions” bring to mind an Oceanic/Panopticon-era Isis, artfully dipping between light and dark sections as the driving guitars crescendo. Elsewhere “Attacus Atlas” bares its sludge fangs, as does the cathartic and outright violent “The Black Antlers“. “Dyatlov Pass” and closer “In Awe Before the Rapture” take a more ephemeral approach, elevating their synth and sample use to the forefront to create sparser soundscapes. This is a rich album, but even on a casual listen it hangs together where it so easily could be a mess.
This cohesion can be attributed to a different take on their production. Understandably and to their great credit this has taken a step up from A Bright Celestial Light which allows their often busy sound to avoid feeling cluttered. This leaves tracks like the synth-heavy “Dyatlov Pass” stark and eerie, the most unsettling piece on the record – and also works for some of the more uplifting parts such as some of the latter sections of “Attacus Atlas” and for the crescendo-heavy compositional style towards which the record tends. Sadly it does sap some of the sheer weight, though this is largely forgotten as the album only shows its heavier side occasionally, perhaps most effectively on “The Black Antlers“. There are some creative solutions to this, such as the atonal intro to “Attacus Atlas“, and it’s a credit to the band that they find new ways to be caustic without losing cohesion.
The Earth Is The Sky might wear its Isis influence a little too heavily. The long passages, lush though they are, do warrant a comparison and with the inclusion of their spectral electronics it’s hard to disassociate them from such an obvious influence. Additionally, their vocalist may have been visited by the spirit of Aaron Turner in the night. This is only an issue in that the post-metal genre invites musicians to identify patterns and evolve beyond them, which I’m not sure this album completely does. However, this is a more general consideration for post-metal, as any band self-identifying themselves as such is viable to be judged by those terms rather than their individual goals.
A moodier record than their debut, concluding track title “In Awe Before the Rapture” is a well-phrased summary of the music, which often feels overwhelming. It’s a theme which repeats throughout the record, and is what makes tracks like “In Awe Before the Rapture“ and “Dyatlov Pass” so effective; it is here where the album is most absorptive, which it strives to be. When the record holds back it is often unsettling, which is its greatest strength.
The Earth Is The Sky is miserable without being melodramatic and complex without being muddled. Despite having it’s influences on its sleeve, it’s still gorgeous and a bit frightening and surely a triumph by anyone’s standards.