The Moth Gatherer - Esoteric Oppression review

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Band: The Moth Gatherer
Album: Esoteric Oppression
Release date: February 2019

01. The Drone Kingdom
02. Motionless In Oceania
03. Utopia
04. The Failure Design
05. Phosphorescent Blight

The Moth Gatherer have developed quickly over their first couple of releases; A Bright Celestial Light was an accomplished debut, but one that clearly displayed its influences from the early efforts of the post-metal pioneers, bringing to mind albums such as Celestial by Isis and Cult Of Luna's The Beyond. By the time they got round to album two, The Earth Is The Sky, the volcanic, crunching, sludgy post-metal riffs began to dominate the sound less and less, with multiple quiet, melodic, electronic-driven instrumental songs and the emergence of clean vocals, whose prominence grew on the subsequent EP The Comfortable Low. Now we arrive at full-length effort number three, and based on their current trajectory, presumably we can expect an even greater emphasis on quiet moments and melodic vocals? Nope.

Unless I missed them, there are no clean male vocals on Esoteric Oppression. There are also no instrumental tracks, no guitar-less tracks, none of the lightness of The Earth Is The Sky or melodic sensibilities of The Comfortable Low. Whilst they are not remotely copycats, the influence of Cult Of Luna on The Moth Gatherer's sound is often notable, and their progression in some way acts as a microcosm of their fellow Swedes' career to date. Whereas their debut sounds inspired by the angry early efforts of Cult Of Luna, and The Earth Is The Sky is somewhat comparable to the more spacious, contemplative, and nature-inspired Salvation and Somewhere Along The Highway, Esoteric Oppression feels like it operates in the same cold, urban, industrial landscapes of Vertikal or Dirge's Hyperion. The electronics, whilst never carrying a song in the way they do on "Dyatlov Pass" from the previous record, feel more consistent throughout and more involved in shaping the sound of songs. Add to that the more brooding feel of a lot of the songs, and the menace of the (improved) harsh vocals, and the vibe this time round is more focused and more bleak. However, given that the variety on display on TEITS was a major boost to that album, is the more limited scope on this album a disappointment? Mercifully, the consistently high quality throughout more than makes up for it.

The Moth Gatherer display a clear mastery of the conventions of post-metal and deliver the usual dynamic transitions deftly with consummate use of the various tools at their disposal, trading off clean and distorted guitars, various electronic approaches, and vocals to generate a consistently engaging sonic landscape. The build-ups, explosions of sound, and transitions are delivered at a high level on choice cuts like "Motionless In Oceania" and "Phosphorescent Blight", which opens up with a jolting electronic motif and closes with a masterful display of interchanges between the various instruments and vocals towards a slowly fading ending. Also of note is arguably the one new element tried out on this album, some almost scat-like clean female vocals that trade off with the predominant harsh screams towards the end of "The Drone Kingdom" to great effect.

With the levity of The Earth Is The Sky's extended stretches of quiet restraint gone, we now venture into dark, sinister city streets to subject ourselves to Esoteric Oppression. The dystopian sci-fi vibes are at the same time menacing and entrancing, and The Moth Gatherer demonstrate their continued eagerness to explore the various facets of their sound to the fullest; I will await their next move with great anticipation.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 8


Written on 03.03.2019 by I'm just a guy with an opinion.


Comments: 5   Visited by: 67 users
03.03.2019 - 18:43
Au Pays Natal
Magnus Lindberg mastered this so the CoL sprinkles aren't surprising at all. I really dig this album but not as much as The Earth Is The Sky. Excellent review and thanks.
03.03.2019 - 21:09
Written by tea[m]ster on 03.03.2019 at 18:43

Magnus Lindberg mastered this so the CoL sprinkles aren't surprising at all. I really dig this album but not as much as The Earth Is The Sky. Excellent review and thanks.

Yeah, I listened to all their albums a few times preparing for this review, I'd forgotten how good The Earth Is The Sky was; I'm particularly fond of the instrumental tracks like Dyatlov Pass and Probing The Descent Of Man
08.03.2019 - 01:26
I haven't heard them yet, but I like the description.
There is a lot of useful information
09.03.2019 - 11:14
Great review! This inspired me to go back to listen to their previous efforts before going into this one.
03.02.2020 - 01:12
For me it's shades of The Ocean and Katatonia's The Great Cold Distance.

The Eyes of A Traitor shows up too.

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