Three years on from their fascinating, self-titled debut album, New York-based Geryon have now been embraced by Profound Lore Records, which will release the band’s second full-length, The Wound And The Bow. In mid-February, Stereogum premiered the opening track (“Silent Command”), and now we bring you the second single, which is the album’s title track.
Even if I hadn’t already been primed to pounce on this record by the impact of Geryon’s debut album, I would have made the leap anyway, for three reasons. First, Geryon is composed of two very talented musicians, Nicholas McMaster and Lev Weinstein, both of whom are also members of Krallice, along with the man who produced this album, Colin Marston.
Second, I have a weakness for bass-and-drum bands, and that’s what Geryon is — though this album also includes guest electronic-music contributions from Jim Mroz (Lussuria), Nick Podgurski (New Firmament, Feast of the Epiphany), and Chris Latina (Private Archive, Article Collection), as well as Marston.
And third, the literary source of the album’s title and its linkage to the music is intriguing. Geryon have already displayed their affinity for classical literature, having chosen for their band the name of the winged beast (the image of fraud) that bore the poets Dante and Virgil to the 8th circle of Hell in Canto XVII of the Inferno, and they’ve done it again here. Nick McMaster explains:
“The album title The Wound And The Bow is taken from an essay by Edmund Wilson about the Sophocles play Philoctetes. Philoctetes is from Homer; he’s the best archer the Greeks have (having been given a bow that never misses by Hercules) but he suffers a snakebite on the way to Troy that leaves a permanent, festering wound, which smells so bad the Greeks abandon him on an island (though they come back for him years later when they realize they need his skill to win the war).
“Wilson’s essay uses the dual nature of Philoctetes– talented but maimed– to posit a general link between psychological trauma and creativity, suggesting this is a common type throughout human history. It is in this sense that we use the title: The Wound And The Bow, two sides of the same coin, humanity as the vessel which transmutes suffering into art.”
McMaster‘s dissonant opening bass notes set an eerie tone for the song over the rumble and clatter of Weinstein‘s drums, and the music remains unsettling as it spins off in increasingly unpredictable directions before reaching its stopping point. When McMaster ventures into the earthshaking register of his instrument and Weinstein launches a flurry of double-bass kicks or blasting snare hits, the death metal parts of the band’s mutated double-helix briefly flare up, accentuated by a burst of howling vocals. But there’s very little about the music that’s conventional — and that’s the main reason for its allure.
Like the conceptual underpinning of the album, the song conveys both psychological trauma and the kind of creative bursts of energy that are fueled by pain or even derangement. On further listens, you can dive more deeply into an appreciation of the musicians’ technical skill and inventiveness, but that sense that you’re losing your grasp on reality and tumbling into a vision of madness never really goes away.
(By the way — there’s an intentionally abrupt halt to this song that may catch you off-guard, even though we’re now telling you about it.)
The Wound And The Bow will be released on April 8 by Profound Lore. It features cover art created by Nick McMaster and lyrics by his sister Antonia. Here’s the track list.
1. Silent Command
7. The Wound And The Bow
In case you missed the premiere of “Silent Command”, you’ll have another chance to hear it below — right after our stream of this new album’s title track.