Pyrrhon - An Excellent Servant But a Terrible Master (Selfmadegod Records)

This shouldn't be this good for a début album...
Release Date: 
7 Feb 2011 (All day)

See, I have never understood  death metal. All that doodling and tinkering which to me never seems to go anywhere. The press release for Pyrrhon's debut An Excellent Servant But a Terrible Master explains that a couple of the band members come from a jazz background. And suddenly everything made sense. All that impossibly perfect technical noise and growling that meanders on forever with free flowing form pays more homage to John Coltrane than anyone with an upside down cruxifix scarred into their forhead. Jazz musicians understand death metal. Pyrrhon understands death metal in a way that 90% of death metal bands would give their dismembered mothers for.
The albums opener New Parasite begins with

 
The subway tunnels sigh
Damp air rushing up through oiled grates
Drawn from phlegmy pools
That fester beneath the streets

Now sure, as well as making me feel hungry it sets the scene for the rest of the album, taking us on a queasy, maniac ride through the minds of some jazzed up, technically proficient, possibly mad, definitely oppressed East Coast natives. Often compared to Gorguts or Obscura, Pyrrhon add a New York neurosis to their songs.
Much has been made about the bands' collectively young age ( all in their early 20s) and this album shows why. Tracks such as New Parasite and Gamma Knife display proficiency beyond their years. Lurching between spacey atmospheric breaks and blasting beats in the space of a few seconds, the tracks can actually make you feel seasick. You never get your legs before being pulled off in another direction.Glossolalian demonstrates the virtuosity of Pyrrhon's guitarist Dylan Dilella. He attacks the scales like a man possessed, pulling out riff after demented riff.The workhorse section of the band, Erik Malave on bass and Alex Cohen on drums ( both the aforementioned jazz aficionados)  competently keep up with the guitars and provide sometimes eerie, sometimes scary background walls of sound. Whichever way the music is portrayed, it never fails to pummel the senses in the true tradition of death metal. AOR this isnt.

Vocalist Doug Moore makes me want to clear my throat as he careens between psychotic snarls, guttural growls and  agonizing screams. Tracks like Idiot Circles and Flesh Isolation Chamber depict his (hopefully) feigned madness in all of its demented glory.
It is the longer tracks that allow Pyrrhon to really express themselves. A terrible master and the albums standout track, Flesh isolation chamber which both clock in at over 8 minutes, really allow the band to wear their bloodied hearts on their sleeve. 
Is it an easy listen? No. Does it unveil itself with repeated listens, gradually revealing its charms to those prepared to stick it out? Yes.
The future of Death metal is looking good as long as Pyrrhon continue to spread their New York penumbra on the world.

 

An Excellent Servant But a Terrible Master is out now on Selfmadegod Records.