So often are metal acts defined as “crazy” or “frenzied” that such descriptions often mean little in the grand scope of the genre, but if one band are deserving of such titles, it’s Pyrrhon. With their unhinged take on technical death metal, the New York band do for extreme metal what Heck (previously Baby Godzilla) do for hardcore – take the genre’s inherent proclivity for chaos, heaviness and loudness and increase it exponentially.
Continuing a precedent set down on past releases, Pyrrhon’s overtly technical extreme metal continues to flaunt its avant-garde extremity on their third LP, taking maniacal twists and turns, ever adapting but always remaining an aurally challenging style oozing with unparalleled ferocity. Trying to name the various metal subgenres present in What Passes For Survival’s nauseating rhythms and rabid instrumentation is as futile as a war on terror. Nevertheless, we did that, so – improvised sections come off like a hazy and distorted jazz band, ‘Tennessee’ flirts with doom metal and stoner-esque atmospheres, parts I-III of ‘The Unravelling’ drift from proggy mathcore to relentless grind and closer ‘Empty Tenement Spirit’ provides moments of gloriously sludgy power.
Every part of the band’s sound is cleverly suited to this hectic melding of styles. Doug Moore flexes his vocal muscles at every turn, shouting, yelling, squealing and growling to help invoke any intended style. Meanwhile, the guitars conjure agitated bursts of dissonant, noisy riffs that roar, squeal, thrash, and constantly morph, seldom allowing for a single moment of respite. The rhythm section follows suit, as the drums burst from one manic tempo to another and the basslines continuously strive to match the complexity of the guitars.
As shown when Sounds editor Geoff Barton claimed that “there are more good riffs in your average single Diamond Head song than there are in the first four Black Sabbath albums”, the metal press has always been one to exaggerate, but when it comes to Pyrrhon exaggeration is nigh-on impossible, and no synonym of “pandemonium” does the band’s sound justice. What Passes For Survival is perhaps their craziest and most thrilling release yet.
What Passes For Survival is out now on Willowtip and Throatruiner Records. Purchase here.
Words: George Parr