Pyrrhon – The Mother Of Virtues

pyrrhon-themotherofvirtues album cover

For many a year a bands’ “extremity” was defined by how offensive their lyrics were, how unintelligible their vocals were, how fast they could play, and for how long. But, as Tiago Moreira sagely commented in his review of the excellent Artificial Brain album Labyrinth Constellation these are finally different and special days for Death Metal. Death Metal lives in Interesting Times.

With The Mother Of Virtues(Relapse), New York’s Pyrrhon have found a way to meld and then go beyond the warped, technical dissonance of Gorguts, Ulcerate, Portal and Deathspell Omega to create quite possibly the most extreme and impenetrable album to date. By anyone.

Five minutes into the album, and we’ve had a minute and a half Grind/Jazz obliteration at the hands of ‘The Oracle Of Nassau’, which is the last time Pyrrhon pay any attention to “traditional” structure or definable output, and the first three minutes of ‘White Flag’, which starts with an inoffensive bass dally before sweeping off in a riot of aggression and notes from all points of the guitar necks that slows down again to tail into sub-noise via discordant jangles. And that’s just the beginning of an extraordinary album that forces re-evaluation of what can be achieved in the name of extreme music. Boundaries aren’t just pushed, they are non-existent. I don’t like, know, or get jazz, but this is surely what the most fucked-up jazz can only dream of sounding like.

The Mother Of Virtues doesn’t just challenge what is “extreme”, but calls into question whether some of what is produced is actually even music. It certainly shouldn’t be called songs. And is all the better for it.

Completely and utterly impenetrable, and not in the way Krallice or AEvangelist are, and exceptional with it. I don’t “get it”, but I don’t think I’m supposed to. I don’t think the point is to understand what I now imagine the soundtrack of a complete and devastating neural implosion to sound like. I think the point is to be challenged by it.

The technique of all involved is incredible as Pyrrhon deconstruct frictional technical death metal and brokenly put it back together in a consciously unnatural way as only the bass and drums retain any semblance of what we are used to, underpinning and holding everything just about together throughout tracks like the Ved Buens Ende tinged ‘Eternity In A Breath’ as if the rhythm section of a different, more “normal” band, but by the midpoint of ‘Invisible Injury’ both have detached themselves from each other, as the Underworld spills out from all parts of the band into pure extreme free-form.

The Mother Of Virtues will never be an easy listen, will never be comfortable, will always be disorientating and doesn’t so much teeter on the razors edge of insanity and genius as hurl itself from one end of the spectrum to the other and back again. But it will always be an extraordinary album.



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Imperial Triumphant – Goliath (EP)

imperial triumphant cover

Making New York an evil[ler] and dark[er] place since 2005, Imperial Triumphant play a style of dark, swirling black metal that calls to mind the similarly twisted Dodecahedron, which already is a good sign, because Dodecahedron is pretty damn rad. I’m not too familiar with other bands in this style aside from perhaps Deathspell Omega, who I would describe as sounding ‘angular’ due to their heavy reliance on discord, dissonance, and generally non-standard musical phrasing that can grate uncomfortably against the ear, though it can vary strongly depending on how it is performed.

I would place Imperial Triumphant in the same category as Dodecahedron, in that they capture the correct atmosphere and heavy-dizzying dynamic well in the two songs given, properly entitled ‘Sodom’ and “Gomorrah”, because I suppose the Biblical wellspring of influence will never run dry as long as monotheistic values are dominant in society. While both pieces are interesting in their own right, I would say that “Gomorrah” is the one that really warrants attention, as it plays with mind-bending psychedelia, blasting blasphemy, ambient horrorscapes, and not to mention, a killer headbang rhythm at the beginning, with a hurts-just-right sort of atonality on the guitars that allow the blackness to shine through paradoxically.

In essence, Imperial Triumphant is not putting forth an entirely unique sound, but the way it is played with will certainly earn them some kind of following, particularly among those who find the nihilistic, cavernous bellows of bands like Antediluvian to be the ideal soundtrack for those lonesome Friday nights with Pazuzu. With just enough filth to create the closed-in atmosphere of being smothered by the elephant on the art, yet clean enough to render the various effects and the nuances of the drumming down to its well-controlled double bass, you end up with a black hole of jagged chords, chunky precision drums, and vocals that seem to come from the belly of a fearsome chimærical beast, all totalling up to one tasty extreme metal outing that’s sure to scare your mother.


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Imperial Triumphant on Bandcamp

Sean Pierre-Antoine

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Isolation Breeds Creativity – An Interview With Ulcerate

Ulcerate 1It is said that isolation breeds creativity. As much as a platitude this is, Ulcerate’s case seems to help it regain some credibility. Although spawned and based in picturesque New Zealand, the brooding metal trio has a penchant for sonically summoning dark, twisted worlds that reflect and pass judgment on the rotten core of humanity—hardly a mental picture that fits the towering-mountains-and-serene-meadows imagery present in the imagination of many a LotR (Lord of the Rings) fan. This natural inclination towards and ability to clearly convey such depressing negativity doesn’t come easily to most bands, let alone one dwelling within the dream retirement country for many. This creativity is of a virulent nature; one that births realms so displeasing in any ordinary person’s view that it is shunned by the masses and revered only by those who have stared into the abyss for too long. From within the murky darkness of pessimism, drummer Jamie Saint Merat surfaces briefly to speak to Dane Prokofiev about the theme of Vermis (Relapse), his philosophy of the human condition and more. Continue reading