My introduction to the technical side of heavy music came in the form of an album that many hardcore metalheads probably wouldn’t consider to be a metal album: Calculating Infinity by The Dillinger Escape Plan. I didn’t care that the music on that album bore no resemblance to Black Sabbath, Slayer, or Iron Maiden, since I was completely blown away by the controlled chaos and the mind-bending time signatures. Ever since I heard that album (probably around 2001 or so), I’ve worked my way through technical metal in all forms, be it black metal, death metal, or anything else I can get my hands on.
First off, let me be clear about what I mean when I say tech-death; the term has at times been synonymous with bands like The Faceless, Born Of Osiris, and Veil Of Maya. While I won’t say those aren’t technical bands, I’m actually referring to bands like Gorguts, Artificial Brain and Ulcerate, and if you’re familiar with those bands, you’ll certainly be savvy to what Pyrrhon are doing. Every second of The Mother Of Virtues is an assault on the senses that will leave you breathless after the last notes of feedback fade out; cacophonous drums, jarring chords, and screamed vocals attack you from every angle with a sense of urgency you usually find in a good car chase scene on a movie. There’s a desperation that you can feel in the music, a feeling of unbridled rage that leaves you feeling emotionally raw, which is certainly a calculated effort on the band’s part. The production serves the music well; there’s reverb all over the place, multiple vocal tracks, and a healthy dose of grime that almost suggests a grindcore influence, in the vein of Pig Destroyer or Ed Gein.
This would be a great record if it was all intense freak-out sessions like tracks “Sleeper Agent” and “Balkanized,” both of which are quick, violent bursts of audio insanity, not unlike the new material by Gorguts. But this isn’t a great record, it’s an EXCELLENT record; this because dispersed evenly between these faster tracks are longer, slower ones like “White Flag” and “The Mother Of Virtues”. What makes these tracks really stand out is that while there’s still the chaos and the intense heaviness, the notes are played slower, and more spaced out, giving you the feeling that this is what slipping into a deep psychosis feels like. The chaos actually creates a true atmosphere, and I’m reminded of the similarly atmospheric band, Ulcerate, though Pyrrhon manage to make it a more terrifying listening experience.
If you like your metal a little more straight-forward, and you prefer a lot of melody in your music, this probably isn’t a record for you. Pyrrhon play music that your parents would probably describe as “noise,” and to an un-discerning ear, that’s a great description. For those that like technical and spastic bands with a death metal edge, add The Mother Of Virtues to your shopping list, because if you like the newer stuff by Gorguts, or Artificial Brain, but don’t own this album, then you’re doing it wrong.