The Moth Gatherer_The Earth is the SkyIt’s difficult striking out into the musical mire in the Internet era. There are almost-literally limitless bands out there vying for the contents of your wallet and it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. The Moth Gatherer seem to genuinely offer something a bit different: their sophomore album The Earth is the Sky is something akin to Agalloch but with more doom and less earthy production, or Secrets of the Sky but with more post-rock tendencies. If such bands draw your attention (as they unquestionably should), then this is worth a spin. There are undoubtedly problems but the strongest aspects are excellent.

The Moth Gatherer are best when they keeps things relatively simple (though nothing they write is entirely straight-forward). The opener, “Pale Explosions,” is replete with doomy satisfaction and probably my highlight of the album. Plodding percussion and fuzzed-out guitars are draped with pretty melodies in a vaguely post-rock manner, both when breaking down with cleaner vocals and slower tempos, and when the fat guitar tones accelerate to ass-kicking gear. The second half is particularly crushing, as is that on “The Antlers.”

Similarly, other tracks which stand out frugally limit themselves to a few choice styles. Developing their post-rock qualities, “Probing the Descent of Man” is instrumental and demonstrates an admirable awareness of texture and timing as layered synths, simply-yet-satisfying percussion and heavy-yet-melodic guitar passages fluctuate through its five-minute length. Indeed, its successor, “Dyatlov Pass,” is entirely ambient and very effective. Cosmic synths overlay subtle electronic beats and lonely post-rock chords, and I enjoy it as a standalone track.

That said, I take issue with the album’s construction. These two instrumental pieces placed next to each other diminish the effect of their subtlety as they are quite different when held up together. They could both serve purpose as reprieves from the heavier material but the second after the first doesn’t fulfill this. Regarding the arrangement of The Earth is the Sky otherwise, things can get a bit too ponderous as most tracks are over-long. There’s a lot to be said for a measured approach in generating expectation for a climax, but it really does take too long on “Attacus Atlas,” “The Antlers” and “In Awe Before the Rapture.” Would a Moth-gazing pun be applicable here, or is that too esoteric even for the most ardent AMG readers?

In addition, there needs to be more work on consistency. It seems somewhat self-defeating for two of my preferred tracks on a principally doom metal release to draw heavily on ambient and subtle post-rock influences. The heavier tracks themselves are hit-and-miss. Only “Pale Explosions” is good through its entire length: “The Antlers” picks up after four and a half minutes but is average before then, and “Attacus Atlas” is entirely forgettable.

On consideration of these weaknesses I really can’t justify awarding more than a 2.5, but the good bits are very good and I enjoy The Moth Gatherer‘s core sound. The Earth is the Sky is an often-engaging fusion of doom and atmospherics let down by a number of key defects. I therefore look forward to a subsequent release since there are shining moments here.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Agonia Records |
Releases Worldwide: November 27th, 2015

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    Great review, dude. Can’t see myself rocking this personally, but the embedded track was pretty good. And here I thought that metaphorical album titles were on the way out. Well, at least I hoped. They better remedy that upon future releases or I will be as happy as a blunt cheese grater.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Like this?

      • AlphaBetaFoxface

        That picture made me cry

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          In a good way, I hope.

  • Yurt

    Surprised to see the 2.5 down there after a generally very positive review. Also that you considered what is my joint highlight of the album (‘Attacus Atlas’, along with the opener) to be “entirely forgettable”!

    I was slightly disappointed yesterday when this released only because the two tracks they’d let us hear already turned out to be the best on the album. Hate it when that happens. Nevertheless overall I think it’s a nice progression from their (excellent) debut and a very accomplished piece of work. Great stuff, the very definition of my cup of tea these days.

  • Wilhelm

    I was drawn to the Atmospheric Doom Metal description, but this isn’t atmospheric doom metal, It’s kind of like Neurosis (sludge?) with a heavy post rock influence. Descriptions aside, I didn’t like this but then again it’s not my style.

    • Guillotine of Papal Crowns

      One of these days day I´ll learn to play, I don´t know… the bass or drums, and I´ll form a band of Atmospheric Doom Sludge Post AvantGarde Metal and I´ll break every tag editor on Earth while I´m laughing like Dr. Doom sitting on my throne or something.

  • You wot m8?

    I’m not sure how this got only a 2.5, given that the issues you have with the album seem to be relatively small. In any case, I really, really like the embedded track, and I look forward to the rest of it.

  • The embedded track sounds like another song I have somewhere but I can’t figure out which. This is going to bother me all day. When that heavy bit rolls out at the end, it’s, it’s… gah! Oh my god it’s the dandy warhols. hahahaha. The Nietzche song. Good lord.

  • Listening to second track on album- stolen bit- synth beat is from Hey Man Nice Shot.

  • Thatguy

    I really enjoyed their debut recording and have been looking forward to this. I should think I will like it more than you El C, but we shall see. Thanks for bringing this band to wider attention.

    • El_Cuervo

      Ye the good stuff is very enjoyable, I just think there’s quite a bit of fluff here.

      • You wot m8?

        Fluff? How so?

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    -1 for scarves. Scarves are not Metal.

    • You wot m8?

      Scvrves vre vnly fvr thv trvest ov thv trve. Yov wovldn’t vnderstvnd.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        With all those “v” substitutions I cant be sure if you´re talking about scarves or scurvy.

        • Name’s Dalton

          Can’t it be both?

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            I don´t think it could be both… Scurvy is metal, scarves are not.

          • [not a Dr]

            Ah! Another proponent of the middle ground fallacy!
            The best fallacy ever.

        • You wot m8?

          Thus proving my point…

    • Name’s Dalton

      They are very post-rock, though.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        I hadn´t thought of that but that´s likely the very reason they´re not Metal.

        • Name’s Dalton

          The band or scarves?

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Scarves. Scarves are not Metal because they are very post-rock. Gosh I hate that “post-rock” term, just typing it makes me cringe.