An Excellent Servant But A Terrible Master
01. New Parasite
03. Idiot Circles
04. Correcting a Mistake
05. Gamma Knife
06. The Architect Confesses (Spittlestrand Hair)
07. Flesh Isolation Chamber
08. A Terrible Master
As you probably know already, New York City has a metric shitload of great heavy bands. See exhibit A (NYC Sucks Vol. 1) and B (NYC Sucks Vol. 2), the highly excellent compilations put together by the mighty Metalsucks.net. If you haven’t downloaded these FREE comps yet, get over there and do so immediately-there is literally not a bad tune in the bunch.
Pyrrhon is one of the bands featured on NYC Sucks Vol. 1, and a damn fine band at that. They recently self-released their first full-length, An Excellent Servant But a Terrible Master. And while it’s probably not for everybody, it is proof positive that Pyrrhon are a force to be reckoned with.
For such a young band (their oldest member is 24), these guys are insanely accomplished as musicians. The album is an utterly batshit amalgam of experimental death metal, jazz-influenced rhythms, and horrifying psychedelic dissonance. They often sound like a seasick Immolation on a bad acid trip (see album opener “New Parasite” and “Idiot Circles” for great examples), which is a good thing. It makes for a challenging listen, but you can’t help but be impressed with the racket this quartet makes.
But it’s not all cacophony and velocity. There are some fantastic breaks in the action, such as the clean guitar break in the middle of “Gamma Knife”, that allow the listener some relief. But these bits are no less tense. because you know they are going to blast back in with full force any second. In fact, the more frightening parts of the album are the quieter, cleaner parts. Check out “Flesh Isolation Chamber” from about 1:00-5:00 for a dynamic example of Deathspell Omega-style claustrophobia.
Parts of An Excellent Servant… sound almost free form, as if the band is loosely following a framework for a song and filling it in with improvised parts as they go. I’m sure Pyrrhon spent a lot of time sweating over the songwriting for this album, but just the fact that they SOUND improvised and spontaneous is a breath of fresh air in an overly composed genre. It is a testament to their musicianship and jazz influence-it is simply hard to believe that the band is able to play these songs the same way twice-much like the aforementioned Deathspell Omega.
As I mentioned before, Pyrrhon have talent and maturity well beyond their years. After a few spins of the album, it did not surprise me at all to find out that bassist Erik Malave and drummer Alex Cohen do session work for jazz and funk groups in their downtime from Pyrrhon. They are as solid a rhythm section as you will find in modern metal, or in any genre of music for that matter. Guitarist Dylan DiLella is also a phenomenal player, he bounces between chunky death metal riffage, blazing speedpicking, spacey dissonance, and clean guitar weirdness with more skill than most bands who have two (or three) guitarists. His solos on “New Parasite”, “Glossolalian” and “A Terrible Master” are creative, virtuosic, and alien. Vocalist Doug Moore is also as versatile as they come-displaying guttural death metal growling, black metal shrieking, and even a more hardcore-inspired style at times. He does a tremendous job lending an element of insanity and diversity to the music.
Overrall, An Excellent Servant… is an awesome debut. Put Pyrrhon on your radar because they could (or at least should) be one of the bands leading the death metal pack in the very near future. My only problem with the album would be that while it is a very dense and compelling listen, all the unpredictable weirdness and dissonance ultimately saps some of the memorability from the songs. As I write this I am on my fifth listen of the album, but I’m not sure I could hum a single part of it back to you. This is a minor complaint, and maybe it’s just because I was blasting Cannibal Corpse earlier and got the groovy ass intro riff from “Staring Through The Eyes Of The Dead” firmly stuck in my head. But maybe that is just what this album is missing, songs that-despite being technical-groove a little more and are easier to get into after only a listen or two. I sincerely hope the esoteric nature of Pyrrhon’s sound doesn’t impede their success and turn away less patient fans, because they are a badass band with limitless potential.
Oh, and did I mention these guys are unsigned and funded this album entirely out of their own pocket? Record labels, get with it and sign Pyrrhon NOW, get their music distributed properly, and put them on some big time tours, please and thank you. You can buy the album now at your own price at the band’s official bandcamp, so hop on that.
Pyrrhon‘s An Excellent Servant But a Terrible Master gets: