Krallice – Ygg Hurr


Sometimes a band shifts out from under you when your back is turned. The last time I really paid attention to Krallice – on their 2009 second album Dimensional Bleedthrough (Profound Lore) – they played a style of modern, distinctly un-necro Black Metal characterised by vast, otherworldly ambience and broken, alien riffing; fiercely technical, but also rooted firmly in atmospherics and the desire to transport the listener somewhere different.

Six years later, they’ve somehow managed to shift sideways while remaining broadly in the same place. The basic components of their sound – yelped vocals, broken dissonant riffs and rapid-fire picking – are still recognisable, but used to achieve a very different effect. The transcendent, other-worldly qualities of their first two albums has been replaced by something much more mundane and earthly. Their musical links to Black Metal (always somewhat controversial among the panda-faced orthodox) are now almost completely absent, their song-writing now rooted more firmly in Noisecore, or whatever it calls itself these days. Fellow New Yorkers Pyrrhon come to mind on several occasions, but the comparison is not a favourable one – where Pyrrhon rage and howl and storm against the urban madness of modern culture, Krallice don’t seem to conjure any emotional response beyond Look How Many Different Notes I Can Play.

At its best Ygg Hurr (Independent) can coalesce into something that combines both technical complexity and savage groove, but more often than not it collapses into a swarm of dissonant riffing with very little behind it. The vocals, perfectly effective when Krallice were searching the stars for alien worlds, also seem ill-suited to the bands more compact, technical style. Where someone like Doug Moore takes his voice on a trip every bit as convoluted and challenging as the music, Krallice’s vocals just screech along regardless of what’s happening around them.

Though in every meaningful way a hugely impressive achievement, Ygg Hurr feels like a triumph of technicality over character, a band who left behind who they used to be and haven’t yet decided who they’re going to be next. The playing is, of course, absolutely beyond fault, and those seeking technicality and virtuosity for its own sake will definitely find something worth listening to, but anyone else will find it hard to shake the feeling of a wasted opportunity.





Pyrrhon – Growth Without End EP


I’ve got a confession to make – I’ve never really understood EPs in Metal. On paper I can see the value of a short, sample-length exploration of a band’s sound, but Metal is such a grandiose, overblown and thoroughly unsubtle discipline that it seems to demand nothing less than albums to sprawl across.  Double albums. Surely forcing any band who aren’t Slayer to record less than thirty minutes of material is restricting their creativity and turning them into a boy-band?

Apparently not.

Following up their 2014’s staggering Mother Of Virtues (Relapse) – which, in a just world, would have topped a lot more Album Of The Year lists than it did – Growth Without End (Handshake Inc.) develops their distinctive blend of abstract Death Metal, Starkweather-style Hardcore and early Dillinger Escape Plan by sharpening it down to a razor-sharp point.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Growth Without End is how it seems to squeeze all the depth and scope of Mother Of Virtues into a fraction of the running time. It lasts for under twenty minutes, but leaves you feeling like you’ve endured an album’s worth of beating.  It’s as if – crude journalistic analogy alert – they’ve trimmed all of the fat from their compositions, leaving behind exactly what they need to make their point and not a second of indulgence. The economy and directness of the best Grind married to Pyrrhon’s range of influences and moods to make one of the most simultaneously focused and diverse Metal records you’ll hear this year.

Last year, vocalist Doug Moore went to lengths to discuss why the band should not be described as “freeform”, and though it was intended as a compliment to the band’s unpredictable and unconventional song-structures, Growth Without End can help you to understand why – there is not a moment on here that is not utterly deliberate and precise, rehearsed to the point of almost inhuman tightness.

Pyrrhon are – with absolutely no hyperbole – one of the most exciting Extreme Metal bands in the world right now, and Growth Without End is both the perfect next step for their existing fans and an excellent introduction for the uninitiated.

Genuinely recommended without reservation.



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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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