Album of the Day: Moths, “Moths”

It seems more than fitting that San Juan, Puerto Rico’s Moths would conclude their first self-titled EP with a cover of King Crimson’s fractured and complex classic “21st Century Schizoid Man.” As veterans of a metal scene as diverse as the shifting time signatures of the monumental prog track, its members have spent their years soaking up the sounds of the myriad metal acts who’ve graced the small island over the years—from the epic doom of legendary heavyweights Dantesco, to the the death/thrash style of more recent metal stalwarts Zafakon, the former band of bassist Weslie Negrón, and the crossover/thrash of their contemporaries Fullminator, whose frontman, Robert Santos, penned Moths’ single “Lepidoptera.” Combining jazz-infused prog, ‘70s heavy metal and stoner doom, death and thrash metal, and heavy grunge, Moths’ debut is nothing short of a behemoth. 

The record blows the doors down from the get-go with “Lepidoptera,” the EP’s most ambitious and complex song. In less than six and a half minutes, they tackle doom, death and thrash metal, and even manage to include a jazzy interlude. “Lepidoptera” showcases the band’s technical prowess: drummer Daniel Figueroa joins forces with guitarists Jonathan Miranda and Omar González in an opening that sounds like it might become a hardcore punk rager—that is, until bassist Negrón joins in, churning out hard-hitting grooves that slow the madness down to a doomy trudge. From there, the band barrel onto “Adhara & Ray,” a more straightforward slab of sludgy grunge that tempers bandleader Damaris Rodríguez’s rabid howls with Negrón’s thick, winding basslines

Their take on “21st Century Schizoid Man” imagines what the song would’ve sounded like if Tony Iommi had replaced Robert Fripp, turning the track into a prog/doom epic. The band slow down the tempo and dirty up the guitars with distortion while Rodriguez’s voice swims in deep reverb, turning the song into a perfect combination of reverence to the original’s innovative structure and into a testament to Moths’ identity as stoner prog heavyweights to be reckoned with.

-Gabriel Serrano Denis

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