Pyramids - Pyramids
Hydra Head
10 songs (30:55)
Release year: 2008
Hydra Head
Reviewed by James

I'm always on the lookout for bizarre, unconventional music, but Texan collective Pyramids have me utterly baffled. What on earth is this? It's a scattershot mess of ambience, psychedelic sound effects, and brief moments of... is it black metal? I'm not really sure, but it certainly has sporadic growls, blastbeats and melancholic guitar melodies. But then it's topped off by distant, clean, wailing vocals. It's a mess, an absolute mess, and as such this is one of the hardest reviews I've ever had to write.

But when Pyramids work out what they want to be instead of being an amorphous blob of barely-music, it's genuinely enjoyable. Opener Sleds works well, with the blissful drones and wailing vocals combining to make an moving and effective ambient piece. But here's the thing: it's too short. The track is just over three minutes long, leaving just as you begin to be truly sucked into its gently shifting beauty. In fact nothing here runs over the four-minute mark. This makes for a frustrating experience, as the ambient tracks, the tracks that work, never get a chance to really worm their way into the listener's mind.

It's on the more “aggressive” (and I use that term loosely) tracks that we see the true flaws behind this record. The tranquillity of the ambient tracks is still there, but it's augmented with fuzzy black metal guitars and a relentlessly hammering drumbeat. The spaced-out production means that these two extremes don't mesh in the slightest, so much so that it sounds like two songs playing at once. Hellmonk is spectacularly incoherent, the beats rising and falling in intensity, sound effects and synths washing in and out with no rhyme or reason. Pyramids have got a good concept here, attempting the same sort of bliss-metal played by Alcest or Jesu, but the band seem to have a short attention span, anything that resonates with me being swiftly abandoned in favour of more abstract toolings. There's a good ambient band at Pyramids heart, but their constant need to be unnecessarily obtuse will drive almost all listeners away. Likewise the closing double punch of Monks and 1,2,3 shows the band capable of playing some fairly charming black metal.

It's not that Pyramids are too “out-there” for me. Trust me, I'm generally a fan of the outer limits of the musical spectrum, and will actively seek it out. But Pyramids are not enjoyably weird. They're just very weird, and their awkward blend of two styles does them no favours. Either move further towards the Alcest-Jesu camp, or go all-out ambient. Until then, Pyramids are stuck in limbo, a thousand monkeys hammering at a thousand typewriters who occasionally, very occasionally, make something worth listening to.

Killing Songs :
Sleds, The Echo Of Something Lovely
James quoted 47 / 100
Other albums by Pyramids that we have reviewed:
Pyramids - A Northern Meadow reviewed by Goat and quoted 77 / 100
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There are 1 replies to this review. Last one on Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:35 pm
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