Pyrrhon - _An Excellent Servant But a Terrible Master_
(Selfmadegod Records, 2011)
by: Dan Lake (8 out of 10)
I've long been a (yep, here it comes) skeptic of technical death metal. (Thanks to Pyrrhon band members for choosing a moniker that facilitates such a handy opening line.) The concept is sound: six-stringers who bring some real game to the stage turn up the wow factor with their phenomenal phalan-gility and bridge the gap between intellect and athleticism through the medium of brain-bruisingly brutal sonics. The musically inclined audience gets a throng of complex structures to dissect and inspect, and the players avoid the utter boredom to which they would inevitably succumb strumming out power chords night after night. Problem is, too often such antics leave behind the tried and truly affecting elements that drew us to this music in the first place (they call 'em power chords for a reason). Riff and tempo ideas get strung together into showcases of technique rather than songs. Bands sacrifice music for goal-oriented aural puzzle games that require so much effort to untangle that they forfeit emotional depth.

Not all purveyors of tech death surrender impact in service of our 24th century android overlords. Pyrrhon's _An Excellent Servant But a Terrible Master_ is an excellent reminder of the glorious highs possible with genuinely heady metal. Immediately appreciable are Doug Moore's vocals, which are the rough but intelligible ravings of a pissed off co-worker rather than the guttural croaks of a cyborg bullfrog most often heard accompanying this music. All the hallmarks of gearhead-core are here: lightning fast anti-melodic runs, hard-to-follow time changes, galaxy-conquering effects, varied and jarring percussive shifts. _Excellent Servant_ transcends all the Gorguts-fondling skronk, though, by padding every angular riff with awkward pauses for uncomfortable chords to chime over simple tempos or well-timed gang shouts to pump their fists through the surrounding chaos. Unlike many of their peers, Pyrrhon have found a way to connect to real anxieties -- not just the fear of being eaten by carnivorous machines swarming through a temporal portal punched open by our own depraved descendents, but also the more pressing threats that stare us down every day of this hopeless, knife's-edge existence.


(article published 12/2/2012)

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