Friday, August 5, 2016
In an alternative universe, I could have actually enjoyed records like The Mother of Virtues or Vermiis, records by two bands which pop up on occasion in my reviews since I entertain the prospect of teasing their most avid followers and acolytes by readdressing how artificially elevated they seem to be, especially when compared the bee knee's of the technical/avantgarde death metal spectrum, Canada's masterful Gorguts. That said, Pyrrhon's Growth Without End EP which came out last year was a refreshing coat of paint that fractured their immensely busybody stream of waxed, alienating notes and chord fusions into something more in tune with my ears, even though it still retained its caustic freakishness. Come 2016, I was excited to get my hands on their latest opus, Running Out of Skin, which turned out to be something less of an opus and rather a flimsy filler that obeyed the law of its titular maxim more than anything. Crafty and deracinating as these gentleman are in their approach, there is a level of versatility on this EP that I simply found unnerving, spin after spin.
And unnerving not in the most positive sense. Firstly, Pyrrhon are beyond doubt inaccessible, a feat they've already proven wit 2014's Mother of Virtues, but while complexity is certainly a characteristic, the real asset of their craft the cauterizing, unfazed attack of the guitars, the insomniac lying wait behind the thickset of instruments. Nevertheless, one reason for me abjuring this 16-minute EP is not it's dense focus on intricacy and avowed inaccessibility; it's the band's inability to employ little else that cultivates captivating musical experience. Let's take a look. ''Statistic Singular'', the opener and longest track here, broils with tense, discordant chords that weave into each other in a seeming mess, a characteristic choppy, bass-driven rhythm guitar driving a grotesque sort of groove beat while the lead guitars mingles with the fringes of utter ear-razing frippery: the intended effect IS alienation, but I'm too busy either scratching my head over what the hell is happening or waiting for a hook to give a damn about their skill. I profess: I do enjoy the simpler, plainer things in life, but the track absolutely lacks any momentum to engross anyone to a satisfying degree. As the same rule sadly applies to the rest of the disc, the quartet has apparently invested more time in attempting to emulate the philosophy of their half-sober practice sessions that actually filing any sensible flourish into the music.
But hell, if you're still pleading 'that's the whole point of the music, to sound dissonant'', be my guest. The guitar tone is unruly and boring, not a major deviation from the industrial grind of their previous records but nonetheless a degree more downtrodden, sharp high-end notes cutting at your eardrums like tiny bacteria with rusted, nail-sized cleavers hacking away in unkempt bliss.I actually enjoyed the vocals on here, though, perhaps the only single attribute that preserved some of that vile, cantankerous timbre I so loved on their previous outings - thankfully some things never change. There's something to be understood here if the best song on the whole disc is a cover of Death's ''Crystal Mountain'', surprisingly well applied into the individual, splenetic science which Pyrrhon has constructed on its own, - complete with both thicker and raspier variations on Schuldiner's voice plus tingling, cyborgian lead sections - and that's Running Out of Skin feels more like a piece of audio commitment fit for donation to poverty-stricken heshers in need, and even then I imagine a good many people wouldn't waste much tine before dumping it into the CD heap. Certainly not a 'terrible' effort by any means, but I felt that in between the dense interplay of meaningless notes and riffs some more substance would have been added, something which I hope the band will seek out to improve on their next full-length. That ''Crystal Mountain'' though.