Pyrrhon - Abscess Time
Avant-Garde Death Metal
12 songs (56:56)
Release year: 2020
Pyrrhon, Willowtip
Reviewed by Goat

Knowledge of a new Pyrrhon album is both exhausting and invigorating, a potential new opportunity to immerse oneself into a filthy bath of technical chaos. Particularly so for those masochists familiar with the band's back catalogue, a series of increasingly ear-unfriendly maelstroms of death metal antagonism that bends the most jagged of influences into an all-encompassing aural fist. Abscess Time is the band's fourth album and the longest at nearly fifty-seven minutes long, making it an especially daunting process for a casual listen, never mind a critical examination! So it initially seems something of a relief that after taking their sound to its limits on What Passes for Survival, Pyrrhon have taken something of a sideways step by lessening their overwhelming chaos, allowing some less heavy experimentation into their still very intense, very angry sound.

This experimentation takes various forms. Certain songs simply build on the grindcore elements in the Pyrrhon sound, with moments here that seem somewhat like the work of a more prog-minded Pig Destroyer (The Lean Years) or Napalm Death (Another Day in Paradise's groovy scissoring riffs) instrumentally more measured than the chaotic blizzard of before. There are still plenty of those discordant meanderings at the root of the band's sound, of course, the rhythm section providing as much deranged technicality as Dylan DiLella's guitars. And there's a greater use of slower-paced sections alongside the galloping freak-outs that makes them all the more effective; although still a long way from accessible, this is nowhere near as obliterating a listen as its predecessor even on the most death/grind of songs.

Other tracks nearly leave the band's former sound behind altogether, opting for a sludgier, noise rock crawl that's more like the work of a Swans or Khanate; the whimsical jazzy tones of The Cost of Living sitting uneasily alongside those vocal spewings and groanings, for instance, stretching out thinly over six minutes of the song's eight plus before belatedly speeding into a gallop in the final minute or so. Much of Abscess Time feels too experimental and not always in a successful way; the angry near-industrial pounding of the opening title track is a positive example, glitchy vocals over screeched riffing forming a mid-paced hammer to the skull. Yet the somewhat aimless groans and avant-garde noise of Solastalgia drags, as does the bass-and-drums-driven State of Nature; two four-minute pieces next to each other than seriously sap the tracklisting's latter half of energy...

Expectations of constant chaos and violence are, accordingly, wrongfooted. Perhaps this will turn out to be something of a transitional album for Pyrrhon, when viewed in retrospect? It must be said too that the band's angry anti-capitalist screeds verge on the overkill at points here, not least for the subtle-as-a-sledgehammer Network and The Hudsucker Proxy samples here and there but in an interlude like Overwinding which is downright skippable and feels very out of place, a long way from What Passes for Survival's frantic roller-coaster ride. The lyrics are still compelling, mind; savage indictments of capitalism such as the tragic deaths of teen grain silo workers Wyatt Whitebread and Alex Pacas that will pause the most monocled of free-marketeers in their tracks.

In any case, there's still plenty of solid aggressive extreme metal to be found here, such as Cornered Animal's more infectious riffing, not quite catchy but also not a million miles away from it. Down at Liberty Ashes pinballs about from riff to riff, certain dementedly melodic moments such as the scratchy soloing feeling almost out of place but helping to lift the song into the band's usual zenith. And Rat King Lifecycle ends the album triumphantly, an eight-minute stomper with some of the most off-kilter riffing; it pulls off a successful tempo downshift and turn towards sinister jazz-rock. More of this successful writing would have improved Abscess Time immeasurably and lifted it from its position as Pyrrhon's weakest album to date, yet even with its flaws there's still much to appreciate for fans of the band and this may form a good entry point for those new.

Killing Songs :
Down at Liberty Ashes, The Lean Years, Another Day in Paradise, Rat King Lifecycle
Goat quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Pyrrhon that we have reviewed:
Pyrrhon - What Passes for Survival reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 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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