Pyrrhon emerged in New York's death-metal
scene with the EP Fever Kingdoms (2009).
Their first album,
An Excellent Servant But A Terrible Master (Selfmadegod, 2011),
marked a bold and awkward twist in the history of the genre.
In terms of variety and complexity, it dwarfed the progressive classics by
Gorguts and Ulcerate.
Doug Moore indulges in continuous changes of vocal registers.
Dylan DiLella unleashes an impressive repertory of illegitimate guitar
The drums assail every note as if it were a matter of life and death.
The seven-minute New Parasite is emblematic not so much for
grotesquely anthemic vocal refrain but for the
instrumental minute and a half that starts it, and that lays the foundation
for the skronky guitar pyrotechnics of the middle section.
The dialogue between Moore's two voices blossoms in the
frantic, gasping Glossolalian, decapitated by
a grating, relentless guitar break. The dialogue fares less well in
Correcting A Mistake, the gargantuan and the psychotic never fully
integrated by the music.
The growling voice duels with booming bass and wild guitar in
Idiot Circles, a song as slow as the genre allows.
The eight-minute A Terrible Master, the album's zenith of pathos,
begins at maximum blast speed and maximum emotional intensity, but it seems
to lose steam along the way and soon borders on
midtempo melodrama, only to be drift into a coda of
Hendrix-ian guitar distortion.
A clean solo guitar break occurs in Gamma Knife, and it only helps
to fully appreciate the rampaging furor that wipes it away.
The hear blastbeat-heavy grindcore of the traditional kind one has to wait
past the un-grind guitar effects of The Architect Confesses.
The mayhem reaches a degree of folly,
as well as of theatre-like dynamics,
in the eight-minute Flesh Isolation Chamber, that plunges from chaotic
noise into psychotic quiet (distorted vocals and tenuous strumming) while
still building up tension.
Throughout the album drummer Alex Cohen and bassist Erik Malave compile
a catalog of impossible rhythms.
Heavy metal has rarely been as
dynamic, narrative, cinematic and cohesive as
The Mother of Virtues (Relapse, 2014) is.
Each piece is an intense, life-threatening experience.
The relatively conventional grindcore of opener The Oracle Of Nassau is
The nine-minute White Flag is a mini-fantasia drenched in
gothic overtones, opening at a funereal doom-y pace, flavored with
psychedelic spaced-out guitar tones, torn apart by a
burst of distorted vocals,
and, after the ritual "grinding", hypnotized in an oneiric pause before the
final beastly growl.
The eight-minute Eternity In A Breath is another venture into doom-metal with visceral energy; and halfway the music stops and the guitar emulates a piano with a few laconic notes; but then the booming procession-like rhythm restarts and the vocals become elongate desperate cries from hell.
The balance of power between
Dylan DiLella's guitar noise and Doug Moore's hoarse shout peaks in the
infernally epic ten-minute bacchanal of The Mother Of Virtues,
one of the genre's masterpieces.
All jagged and thorny, the instrumental score of Sleeper Agent sets
the stage for a split-personality show by the vocalist.
Balkanized is their idea of acrobatic rock'n'roll, an orgy at high speed of odd tempos, guitar squeaks and vocal shrieks (that gets even more savage when it slows down).
The scaffolding of Implant Fever creaks and shakes dangerously, with every element pushed to the limit and the vocalist shifting among different psychotic personas.
Invisible Injury dumps seven more minutes of extenuating psychological
violence, showing little respect for form and tradition (with a three-minute
instrumental coda which is a delight of anti-mood music).
The band assimilates lessons that come from as far as
DiLella is a new master of atonality, worthy of the classics of the new wave
and of free jazz.
The rhythm section
(drummer Alex Cohen and bassist Erik Malave)
is the bastard child of an earthquake and a drunk mammoth.
Meanwhile, Pyrrhon's vocalist Doug Moore and bassist Erik Malave
helped drummer Steve Schwegler, based in Philadelphia,
to resurrect an old project, Seputus, finally documented on
the album Man Does Not Give (2016).
What Passes For Survival (Throatruiner, 2017), the first album with
new drummer Steve Schwegler, is not as creative as its predecessor but no less
adventurous. It opens with the melodic growling of The Happy Victim's Creed and Dylan DiLella's frenzied solos, as if to introduce the two pillars
of their music.
However, the only piece that will stick to this manifesto is The Unraveling, a brief three-part composition whose high-energy riffs, screams and blastbeats become a burning magma.
Instead, the best of the record is stylistically elusive:
The Invisible Hand Holds A Whip is all atonal, pounding fever and choral grandeur;
Dylan DiLella's guitar work in
the hellish melodrama Goat Mockery Ritual invites comparisons with
no less than Deep Purple (including his best solo in this album);
Tennessee, which begins with a distant agonizing call over Dylan DiLella's funereal bluesy chords and then explodes in an
instrumental jam buried in DiLella's extremely tortured noise and finally
emits chaotic vocals and more DiLella mayhem like a spinning machine-gun,
is basically an eight-minute prog-rock suite.
Alas, the lengthy epic closer this time disappoints:
the twelve-minute Empty Tenement Spirit indulges in a
slow bluesy passage that is not particularly exciting and (worse) in a
meandering coda that feels a bit childish.
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