Pyrrhon – The Mother of Virtues | Review

Much of the time one's enjoyment of a particular band or album comes down to taste. Sometimes that taste is the bile rising in the back of your throat from whatever sickening and twisted manipulation of conventionality you find yourself suffering through. In which case it's most likely the responsible parties fully intended to induce such an intense feeling of unease. Enter Pyrrhon and their second full-length The Mother of Virtues.

The Brooklyn band take any semblance of “normal” death metal and warp it beyond a reasonable shade of recognition. Their reliance on channelling chaos is discombobulating to the point that trying to focus on the disparate elements becomes futile. Dissonant guitars, wretched bass, intuitive percussion and multifarious and malevolent vocals all vie for attention amid a pervading sense of dread and inherent evil.

If there's one thing the unimaginative listener can latch onto it would be the rhythm section. The drums and bass aren't necessarily typical death metal but their general feel is far less “out there” than the guitars. Their relative steadiness holds as everything else collapses into a churning miasma of dissonance and atonality.

Tracks like “White Flag”, “Eternity in a Breath” and the title track, being the longest, segue back and forth through movements of quiet reflection, crushing doom, vortices of soul-sucking and noisome clamour and skin-flaying death metal. Tempo changes from monolithic to middling to mile-a-minute happen in the blink of an eye. Skittering broken chords giving way to scorching death or heaving lurches is only par for the course. After a listen or two one gets the feeling that the more passive moments are just a cruel trick to sedate the listener before the disembowelment.

The Mother of Virtues as a whole growls with sadistic intent. It bears a boiling intensity of combatant ideologies of instrumentation. The tactic of extreme dissonance and anti-riff sentiment is far from unique but Pyrrhon put their own spin on it. Much of the time it feels like multiple aspects of the same self existing in parallel dimensions where the rules of physics and sound are vastly different. These dimensions have become pierced through allowing the wavelengths of existence to overlap. Sometimes they sync up through self-modulation of frequency but predominantly follow their own circuitous paths of wild imagination.

Pyrrhon are devoted to dissonance and a strict adherence to atonality. The Mother of Virtues is not for the faint of heart or weak of mind. Even then it's a viscerally challenging listen that finds and forces its way into the dark corners of experimentation. If Gorguts, Ulcerate, Artificial Brain and anything Colin Marston (who mastered the album) gets his fingers on gets you foaming at the mouth, take a hit of The Mother of Virtues and the brain-frying madness of Pyrrhon will be your new drug of choice.

Matt Hinch

Band info:
Label info:

Matt Hinch lives an unassuming life on the backroads outside Forest Mills, Ontario, Canada. He packs in as much metal as he possible can amid factory work, raising three daughters with his wife and working the land. In addition to Scratch the Surface Matt also writes for Hellbound, Metal Bandcamp, About Heavy Metal and his own blog, Kingdom of Noise.
Keep up with him on Twitter @KingdomofNoise.