Wednesday 9 August 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Pyrrhon - "What Passes for Survival"

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Album Type: Full-length
Date Released: 11/08/2017
Label: Throatruiner

"What Passes for Survival" is an uncompromising album and you will learn that fast, right out of the gate.  It is impossible to listen to Pyrrhon's magnificent new release, without admiring the band's fearlessness and technical prowess.  This album is exactly what extreme metal doubters need to hear.

"What Passes for Survival" CD//DD//LP track listing

1. The Happy Victim's Creed
2. The Invisible Hand Holds A Whip
3. Goat Mockery Ritual
4. Tennessee
5. Trash Talk Landfill
6. The Unraveling: Hegemony of Grasping Fears
7. The Unraveling: Free At Last
8. The Unraveling: Live From The Fresh Corpse
9. Empty Tenement Spirit

The Review:

It is hard to say how many people truly understood how significant at the time it was for the sociopolitical history to be put forward in a breakout song such as Iron Maiden's 1982 classic "Run to the Hills." The character and manner of Native American depopulation has been a contentious one for scholars, where terms like genocide spark heated debate. Yet Bruce Dickinson, who has made no secret of his personal opinions on a range of topics over the years, squashed it all for just a second, putting these stories into a song still heard today, even in the mainstream.

Long before and long since, metal has, more so than so many genres of popular music, made cultural commentary part of its fabric. Oppression, injustice and rebellion all have been subjects in metal as long as, well, there has been metal. It is thus impossible to listen to Pyrrhon's magnificent new release, "What Passes for Survival," without admiring the band's fearlessness in this regard, and in it, carrying on a tradition that needs them to do so.

If you are a fan of Pyrrhon's previous work, this new recording will draw your attention because the band has a reputation for extreme music with something extra. The guitars are always more technical, the bass and drums always more booming and the vocals far more ripping than the next group. You will not be disappointed at all in this regard. However, Pyrrhon shines brightest in its exceedingly powerful songwriting. The Brooklyn quartet here crafts its best music yet.

"The Mother of Virtues," Pyrrhon's last recording, was renowned for its topical, dense lyrics, where surveillance, discrimination, wealth inequality and bigotry were laid bare in ways that were poetic in their presentation rather than preachy. If the title "What Passes for Survival" did not hint to you already that Pyrrhon were going to be just as uncompromising, you will learn it fast, right out of the gate.

On "The Invisible Hand Holds A Whip," vocal maestro Doug Moore does not need to name names for song to have punch. "The sources in conflict/Revised and provisional/The havens offshore/The funding's untraceable/But someone's getting paid/And everyone's got a theory/Oh, I can feel the hands on me/Pointing me towards the ones I should hate/Don't tell 'em the maths got minds of their own/They want backs to walls /And blame always finds a home."

Quite possibly the only thing heavier than Moore's lyrics is the music itself. Guitarist Dylan DiLella, Erik Malave on bass and drummer Steve Schwegler are gifted in how well they play together. Their style is as far away from your thun-thun-thun metal standard. Instead they create compositions you just do not expect. "The Unraveling," a threesome of tracks prefixed as such, is a perfect exhibit of this unique approach. DiLella presents several inventive chord progressions and Malave's bass work is visionary. As we close with "Empty Tenement Spirit," you will feast on Schwegler's violently passionate drums, which are a real treat.

"What Passes for Survival" is exactly what extreme metal doubters need to hear. Now, if only other genres of music could be nearly as intellectual and technical.

"What Passes For Survival" is available digitally here and physical copies are available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook