Pyramids - A Northern Meadow
Profound Lore Records
Experimental Post-Rock
8 songs (49:00)
Release year: 2015
Profound Lore Records
Reviewed by Goat

Well, this is different! Sounding like a meeting of minds between Steven Wilson and Blut Aus Nord, Pyramids mix drum machine (programmed by Vindsval himself), high-pitched but bearable vocals and droning yet melodic riffs (with Colin Marston's aid) to near-perfect outcome. It's a curious album, not least because I missed the hype on the band's 2008 début and as such came to this completely free of preconceptions. I've seen this called black metal in places, but it's only black metal in the same way that recent Alcest is, ie not much; it's closer to the likes of Jesu, building walls of pleasant sound from industrial building blocks, yet doesn't have the fragility and innocent wonder of Justin Broadrick's project at its best. Instead, the overriding vibe is that of the post-rock elements (if song titles such as The Earth Melts into Red Gashes like the Mouths of Whales wasn't clue enough) given a sinister undercurrent thanks to the drum machine backing, dissonant riffing and moments like the electronically-fragmented vocals in The Substance of Grief is Not Imaginary and the gloomy Consilience. It's nowhere near as disturbing as the artwork, though.

Given a few years I could have seen 777-era Blut Aus Nord producing something like this. It's several steps removed, but clearly heavily influenced by that, particularly as the album progresses. The building intensity of Indigo Birds, for example, is a lovely experience subtly marred by the lurking darkness of the riffs, but ending on quite beautiful ambience, any darker elements utterly swallowed. I Have Four Sons, All Named For Men We Lost to War may begin a la Blut, but the moment the distant vocals enter this vibe changes to a melancholic one, and although the guitars are plain in the intro to I Am So Sorry, Goodbye they soon form part of a melodic wall of sound. No single instrument stands out, you're hearing Pyramids as a unit rather than Vindsval or Marston, which is admirable. Where A Northern Meadow falters, however, is in the sound itself. It's pretty, often beautiful, but it suffers for being repetitive – any particular stretch from any random song sounds interchangeable – and at just short of fifty minutes long, there's a lot of it to take in here. Still, this is very good if you enjoy the style, and fans of both Marston and Vindsval will find much to appreciate here. It's a good album to relax to, perfect easier listening for extreme metalheads, and I enjoyed it as such.

Killing Songs :
In Perfect Stillness I've Only Found Sorrow, The Substance of Grief is Not Imaginary, Indigo Birds, Consilience
Goat quoted 77 / 100
Other albums by Pyramids that we have reviewed:
Pyramids - Pyramids reviewed by James and quoted 47 / 100
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