Tuesday, 9 June 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Pyrrhon, "Abscess Time"

By: Josh McIntyre

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 26/06/2020
Label: Willowtip Records

“Abscess Time” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Abscess Time
2. Down At Liberty Ashes
3. Teuchnikskreis
4. The Lean Years
5. Another Day In Paradise
6. The Cost Of Living
7. Overwinding
8. Human Capital
9. Cornered Animal
10. Solastalgia
11. State Of Nature
12. Rat King Lifecycle

The Review:

Pyrrhon is a weird band. They’re one of several New York City based metal bands that are pushing the boundaries of heavy music in exciting and refreshing ways, a continuation of the city’s “downtown music” history that has shaped experimental music since at least the 60s. New York’s long passion for making strange and challenging music flows through the veins of John Zorn as it does Sonic Youth and, for today’s metal, bands like Krallice, Liturgy, Imperial Triumphant, and Pyrrhon just to name a handful.

This might be my favorite Pyrrhon album thus far. It feels incredibly focused for having such a messy sound. More often than not the bass, drums, and guitars all dance around each other yet they line up perfectly when the moment strikes, as if they are simply following different paths to the same end. Sometimes it feels like weirdo tech death theatre and the instruments are actors. They talk over each other, they change tone, and they react to one another. Doug, who deserves more credit for being an impeccable vocalist, feels like a narrator to this avant garde play who himself is reactive. His range is incredible, including the deepest growls, very high screeches, shouts, and spoken word sometimes filtered through effects.

The songs are all over the place. They range from a minute long to nearly nine minutes, from being claustrophobic at exhausting speed to miserable and winding at a creep. Even at its most intense, Pyrrhon’s music comes off as moody. They don’t play anything for its own sake, everything has a purpose even if it’s just to pick at your brain. Lyrics here are just as purposeful, conveying the general moods that the pitfalls of the economic and social system that lay bare onto us. Laborers as machines, alienated from their natural states and desires as they struggle under ever increasing living costs, and are deemed animals when they decide not to comply. Pyrrhon not only push forward as metal musicians and artists but they push as human beings expressing distaste for contemporary social structures.

“Abscess Time” sounds like feeding the weirdest parts of Gorguts into an Albert Ayler machine and seeing what comes out. Sometimes bits of noise, ambience, and hardcore are thrown in as seasoning. There are plenty of ‘normal’ moments (tech death normal anyway) with riffs and some parts even sound like Deadguy. Still, these parts are laid out in an atonal swarm that rips the senses inside and out. This album is a prime example of a metal band challenging itself and the genre. The diversity makes every second of the album worth it, too. Every idea has merit to it, riffs have interest to them, and the longer songs evolve throughout quite organically.

On a personal level, listening and enjoying this record is a mixed bag of emotions. I was supposed to see and play with Pyrrhon in Philadelphia before COVID-19 hit. They’ve long been a band that I’ve admired and wanted to catch at a show. Both beyond and including the pandemic, the socio-economic status of the world and especially the United States, my home, is uncertain. The naked gears of a horrid political machine are apparent. Pyrrhon is one of several voices that shriek at the status quo, whether it be musically or socially. Somehow that gives me a little bit of hope.

“Abscess Time” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook