(Austin Weber reviews the surprising new EP by Pyrrhon.)
Since their inception, NYC-based death metal weirdos Pyrrhon have developed a reputation as an experimental force to be reckoned with. And with each new release the band venture further into new territory and new forms of chaotic, genre-bending insanity. Last year they dropped an EP called Growth Without End that got a lot of critical praise and really seemed to be a breakthrough moment for the group in terms of their growing name recognition. If you remember, that release was itself a quick turn-around, with the band having previously released a phenomenal full-length just two years ago called The Mother Of Virtues.
Now, seemingly out nowhere and with no advance hype, the band quietly dropped a new EP today called Running Out Of Skin. With the only Pyrrhon constant seeming to be a penchant to change and shift their sound, it should come as no surprise that Running Out Of Skin is both familiar and different from their prior works. It consists of three original tracks, two of which were improvised in the studio, and a damn heavy cover of Death’s ”Crystal Mountain” to end the EP.
Running Out Of Skin kicks off with its strongest cut, “Statistic Singular”, which combines their more frenzied nature displayed on last year’s Growth Without End melded to a dense, multi-part, twisting song structure similar to what they employed on The Mother Of Virtues. Clocking in at just under 7 minutes and consisting of a smorgasboard of eerie sounds and skin-peeling cacophony, “Statistic Singular” is a brilliant song worth the price of the EP alone.
Following it are the two songs that the band wrote through improvising in the studio. The first, “Ashes To Alveoli”, introduces itself with a lumbering dark groove before jetting off into spastic tech-grind territory. The second improvised track is “Motivational Speaker II”, which is a much longer song than the short burst that is “Ashes To Alveoli”. The song starts off in a messy vacuum of off-kilter rhythms and disorienting drum work that altogether gives a feeling of losing sanity as it becomes ever more creepy and swallows you whole. It’s an interesting improvisation that benefits from a pronounced looseness, unfolding more like a swarming, amorphous soundscape of terror than as a written-out song.
As mentioned, the album then ends with a cover of “Crystal Mountain” by Death, which was the first song the band learned as a group, and (per the band) “serves as a send-off for longtime drummer Alex Cohen, who makes his last recorded appearance with Pyrrhon here.”
All in all, Pyrrhon have yet again proven that they are one of the most interesting and best death metal bands around right now. Running Out Of Skin is the work of an eclectic and forward-minded group who continue to improve and expand their sound with each release. It’s terrifying just how damn good Pyrrhon are. All aboard the hype train. Thankfully for once, it’s warranted.
Running Out of Skin is available now on Bandcamp; a limited-edition CD pressing courtesy of PRC Music will follow shortly. Caroline Harrison created the cover art and layout.