An Excellent Servant But a Terrible Master

Written by: MST on 10/11/2011 23:08:23

At this point in my writing career I think I should thank for giving me the opportunity to discover some fantastic music that I would probably never have discovered had I not been writing these reviews. Yes, you guessed it, this review is about another fantastic band that never would've reached my speakers under normal circumstances. Pyrrhon are a progressive/technical death metal band from Brooklyn, New York. "An Excellent Servant But a Terrible Master" is the band's debut album, but while the members of Pyrrhon may not be the most seasoned of musicians they're definitely a creative bunch.

"An Excellent Servant.." consists of 8 songs varying in individual lengths from 3 to 8 minutes, and the album clocks in at 45 minutes. In those 45 minutes we're treated to an array of technical riffs, odd song structures, vocals in all ranges and some deliciously abstract lyrics. This immediately brings to mind progressive/technical death metal bands such as Ulcerate and Gorguts, but the dark soundscape, the vocals and even the instruments in the slower parts of the album remind me of The Psyke Project, even though they play a completely different genre. Axeman Dylan DiLella churns out everything from slow, creepy melodic riffs to fast compositions of riffs that fly up and down the scales. As is very often the case with the bass, it is kept in the back of the soundscape, but it is audible and does its job of making the music heavier well. The drums are very varied and fit the music well, from the dragging along in the second part of "Idiot Circles" that almost serves as a long breakdown to the blasting of the faster parts of the album. But Alex Cohen's talent is not allowed to truly shine through until the last part of "Flesh Isolation Chamber" in which the same riff is repeated over and over for some time while the drums change tempo and pattern constantly, almost making it sound as if the riffs are changing as well.

Being a vocalist myself, the thing that I usually pay the most attention to are the vocals, and by extension, the lyrics. Doug Moore's vocals are usually either mid-range growls or screams, but they also venture into guttural territory once in a while. For the majority of the album there are no effects on the vocals, but in the creepy passages that appear in for instance "Gamma Knife" and "Flesh Isolation Chamber" the vocals are distorted, an effect that enhances the feeling of despair that the lyrics portray in those particular songs. An album such as this needs some very special lyrics. "Glossolalian" is a song about lies, as can be heard in vocal lines such as: "breathing down my nonsense / and I hope you fucking choke on all it doesn't say" and "My voice has become toxic / weaponized vowels / acid gibberish". As we move further into the album we stumble upon the song "Flesh Isolation Chamber", a song describing prisons disguised as hospitals in which people are held. In this hospital "the lightbulbs are camera / the keyholes are cameras / even the bricks are cameras", but after all: "Which is worse / always being watched or never being seen?". The last line almost sounds like "or never being sane", and that wouldn't fit the song any less than the real sentence. As if the lyrics weren't enough, the album features two movie quotes. The first is from the movie "Hot Fuzz": "I'm sure if we bashed your head in, all sorts of secrets would come tumbling out". The second quote is a long quote by German film director Werner Herzog that ends the album after the music has stopped.

There is no doubt in my mind that "An Excellent Servant.." is an excellent record, and I'm absolutely certain that the grade I've chosen to give here is completely justified, but even after almost twenty listens I'm not sure I completely understand the connections between each song and all the details. Given the right amount of publicity Pyrrhon could very well find themselves standing among the best peers of their genre, because they have everything it takes, and then some. And finally, I'd like to end the review with the quote that ends the record: "There is no harmony in the universe, we have to get acquainted to this idea that there is no real harmony as we have conceived it. Even the stars up here in the sky look like a mess. And we have to become humble in front of this overwhelming misery and overwhelming fornication, overwhelming growth and overwhelming lack of order."


Download: New Parasite, Glossolalian, Flesh Isolation Chamber
For The Fans Of: Gorguts, Ulcerate, The Psyke Project
Listen: Bandcamp

Release date 16.09.2011
Selfmadegod Records

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