Pyrrhon - What Passes for Survival
Avant-Garde Death Metal
9 songs (45:17)
Release year: 2017
Pyrrhon, Willowtip
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Anti-capitalist technicians Pyrrhon impressed the hell out of former comrade Charles on their first two albums, taking death metal and twisting it into impressive new forms. As the band have progressed they've turned toward more chaotic and jazzy forms, the gliding tech-death grooves of debut An Excellent Servant but a Terrible Master being retuned toward atonal avant-garde noise rock on The Mother of Virtues. You can tell that even that wasn't enough for the band as What Passes for Survival is not so much a listen as an ordeal at moments; taking all the elements that made their admittedly unique sound and throwing them into a blender. The resulting racket is a rotten, lumpy soup, throwing you from one extreme to the other, closer to grind than what is generally thought of as technical death metal. This is, of course, very technical regardless, particularly if you focus on the (absurdly good) drumming and guitars, somewhere between (later) Brutal Truth and (older) Cattle Decapitation with screechy riffs and solos that sound like Gorguts covering Captain Beefheart. Each instrument is remarkable, even the clearly audible bass courtesy of Erik Malave (ex-Imperial Triumphant). And, of course, Doug Moore's vocals which act as an instrument in their own right at moments as he screams and roars, at other points forming the dying moans of a man drowning in sludge, such as that final disgusting gurgle on The Invisible Hand Holds a Whip.

It is exhausting music to listen to, even for a metalhead. Initial listens will leave you like the starving dog on the album artwork, crouched in bewildered fear. Yet as you listen further and grow used to the careering rush of anger, you'll find the depths here. The lyrics, for one, are eminently readable, taking on everything from black metal aesthetics on Goat Mockery Ritual ("Incant thy prayer to pseudo-profundity/Inverted crosses confess thy pontiff envy") to, erm, music criticism on Trash Talk Landfill, and managing to do so without coming across as bitter misunderstood artistes, too! There's none of the immature charm of Cephalic Carnage, however; no winks at the listening audience to let them know that Pyrrhon are in on the joke. This is deadly serious, musically and lyrically. Proggy three-part triptych The Unraveling is a scouring blast, none of the pieces over two and a half minutes long but packing in the humourless bile nonetheless. The slower-paced Tennessee is a wonderful dip into doomier terrain, unstructured sludge for the most part but building into a faster, crunchier second half. And twelve-minute finale Empty Tenement Spirit is the spiritual marriage of Bob Dylan and Napalm Death, a poetic yet furious tumbling trawl that turns introspective and almost post-metal around the four-minute mark, surprisingly and carpet-tuggingly beautiful after so much intense ugliness. The true face of the band soon returns, sludgy grooving scrapes with technical flurries between as Moore screeches and retches, ending in crashing percussion. It's a soul-crushing end to an album that sounds like The Mother of Virtues on steroids, a disorienting raging diatribe that simply must be heard whether you agree with the band's preaching or not. Pyrrhon are the opposite of a pleasant listen but one of the true originals around today.

Killing Songs :
The Happy Victim's Creed, Goat Mockery Ritual, Tennessee, The Unraveling
Goat quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Pyrrhon that we have reviewed:
Pyrrhon - Abscess Time reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Pyrrhon - The Mother of Virtues reviewed by Charles and quoted 88 / 100
Pyrrhon - An Excellent Servant But a Terrible Master reviewed by Charles and quoted 87 / 100
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