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Pyrrhon - "An Excellent Servant But A Terrible Master" (CD)

Pyrrhon - "An Excellent Servant But A Terrible Master" CD cover image

"An Excellent Servant But A Terrible Master" track listing:

1. New Parasite (7:34)
2. Glossolalian (3:13)
3. Idiot Circles (4:40)
4. Correcting A Mistake (3:21)
5. Gamma Knife (4:55)
6. The Architect Confesses (Spittlestrand Hair) (4:49)
7. Flesh Isolation Chamber (8:24)
8. A Terrible Master (8:04)

Reviewed by on September 13, 2011

"Pyrrhon has a lot to offer technical death metal with their first album, 'An Excellent Servant But A Terrible Master.' For the most part, the band puts in a performance that usually takes bands twice as long to grasp."

Technical death metal casts a wide net, with bands from Obscura to Gorguts to Psyopus getting tangled in the net. Some of these bands have a legitimate claim for that title, while others are eager to throw a billion riffs and time changes into a sloppy formula. There’s nothing worse than hearing a song from a band and having no idea what the point of it was. Pyrrhon could have fallen into that trap on their debut album, “An Excellent Servant But A Terrible Master.” Lo and behold, Pyrrhon pulls a swerve and successfully launches their career in superior fashion.

Top-shelf musicianship only takes a band so far in technical death metal. While there are moments on the album where the only purpose is to play a megaton of scatter-shot notes, Pyrrhon sidesteps a majority of the usual knocks against the genre. There’s a real ambition to not just slam away for a whole song, letting the music elope and sway. Having one guitarist do all the work seems rough, but Dylan DiLella has enough skills for two guitarists. It’s also nice to see a lack of layered guitar tracks, giving the rhythm unit a chance to not be boggled down by the guitar.

Almost half of the songs on “An Excellent Servant But A Terrible Master” are over seven minutes long, and prove to be the highlights in many ways. The amount of space spent on instrumental doodling is given a boost, and a real sense of melodic timing is brought out. “Flesh Isolation Chamber” has an eloquent portion of floaty guitar riffs, and opener “New Parasite” has DiLella literally putting his guitar through hell. “A Terrible Master” has a sizzling pace that heats up like throwing kerosene into a charcoal grill.

Bassist Erik Malave is not given many standalone sections, but his performance on the intro to the latter track makes up for this misjudged decision. Malave gets 30 seconds to pluck and groove away, and it provokes a calming lull onto the album before the heaviness sonically dropkicks in. Doug Moore screams, growls, and rants in a style that has slight similarities to The Red Chord’s Guy Kozowyk, though Moore doesn’t directly copy his voice patterns.

Pyrrhon has a lot to offer technical death metal with their first album, “An Excellent Servant But A Terrible Master.” For the most part, the band puts in a performance that usually takes bands twice as long to grasp. A few of the songs are less memorable than others, and the random bouts of needlessly wanking away on their instruments is less than fruitful in its results. It’s the type of stuff bands usually get out of the way on their first album to never fall into again. If Pyrrhon follows suit, their next few albums could be worth putting attention onto.

Highs: Atmospheric guitar work among the crazy riffs and time changes, great musicianship, band can play seven/eight minute songs and make them not drag

Lows: A few songs less memorable than others, the need to pound a million notes into a small frame of time hurts the band at times

Bottom line: A strong debut from Pyrrhon that isn't just standard-fare technical death metal.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)