Pyrrhon – What Passes for Survival (Review)

PyrrhonThis is the third album from Pyrrhon, an extreme metal band from the US.

Pyrrhon are not your standard band. I first encountered them on their 2014 album The Mother of Virtues, and even then they were a distinctly atypical and genre-breaking proposition.

This is layered and intricate music, presenting an intimidating and seemingly impenetrable wall of harsh sounds and abrasive noise to the listener. This is not easy listening by most definitions, and What Passes for Survival is just as red in tooth and claw as its concept.

The music on What Passes for Survival is complex and unbounded. Mixing together elements of scathing technical and shapeshifting avant-garde death metal, as well as dark, twisted violent mathcore, dissonant menace, and experimental explorations, Pyrrhon have enough mutated death metal elements to still deserve the appellation, but this is essentially post-death metal, (whatever that really means). Ultimately Pyrrhon are very much their own beast, one that won’t be tamed or fettered.

Vicious and rabid, Pyrrhon are almost a contradiction in some ways; the music here manages to sound both completely unhinged and frenzied, full of mayhem and wanton violence, but at the same time the level of disciplined musicianship it takes to achieve the impressive noises that they make on this album is quite staggering. As controlled, directed, and intelligent as this undoubtedly is though, it also sounds like the embodiment of chaos, rage, fury, and wild abandon.

Pyrrhon’s sense of experimentation and exploration, and their atypical creation of savage soundscapes, should be held up high as exemplars of boundary-pushing extreme metal. What Passes for Survival is so very good at what it does, despite it actually being very hard to classify what that actually is. A relatively simplistic starting point would be to mix together a churning, roiling mix of bands such as Today Is the Day, Converge, Cephalic Carnage, and Gorguts, but as you’ve probably guessed, this description will only get you so far. Tennessee, for example, also exhibits some influences from older Mastodon and Neurosis, and is the first time on the album where the listener almost gets a bit of breathing space from the raging turmoil that’s largely been the album up until this point.

What Passes for Survival is an album that stands out from the extreme metal crowds with ease, marking itself as something quite special. As stated earlier; Pyrrhon are not your standard band, and are one of the very few groups out there that can claim a large percentage of true individuality and uniqueness in their sound, which is no small feat.

This is absolutely an essential listen for anyone into challenging, non-standard extreme music. Although this kind of extremity certainly doesn’t have a wide appeal, for those that are willing and able to stomach its intensity and chaotic innovation, the rewards are huge.

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