Pyrrhon – What Passes For Survival (2017) REVIEW

Describing Pyrrhon isn’t so hard, they’re basically a technical math-core noise rock death metal band, duh. With every release the guitarist has been steadily reaching a transcendental level of skill with a guitar that aims for precise, angular noise rock influenced riff experiences but through a cloudy fidgety wall of mathcore, at the speed of powerviolence. Folks will falsely compare this to Gorguts, as if it has anything in common with ‘Obscura’, but this has much more to do with math metal and carefully intersperses death metal style without touching anything orthodox within the genre beyond a deep growl that kicks in 15% of the time. Face it already, you’re listening to abstracted deathcore math metal.

“What Passes for Survival” uses a similar dice-roll technique that you’d find in a band like Psyopus. That sense of the aleatory, the random nature of the songwriting that disorients most folks leads to an album that never really resembles orthodox death metal, or really death metal at all. The guitar riff with the intent to crush the listener under scary heaviness is a defining trait in most styles of death metal. Pyrrhon structures a riff that disorients the listener strongly, giving wild abstract musical shapes that repeat, much like Lightning Bolt, in uneven loops to perpetuate a sort of crusty and furious tonal anxiety reserved for technical/math metal on par with Botch or Converge minus the prominent metalcore parts of those bands.


Fans of the previous album should be happy with the return of the noise rock influences that made ‘The Mother of Virtues’ a special record back in 2014.  Although the musical statement as a whole is less dense and so dialed in that the performance begins to collide with itself. The variety of vocal approaches used is pretty awesome and I will say that it is easy to get lost in the moment as Pyrrhon whips up a frenzy of screeching guitar noise and group shouted hissing. The grand finale track “Empty Tenement Spirit” feels like such a sudden burst of interest before the record ends because the trio of “The Unraveling” tracks are somewhat weak and poorly connected in theme. I’ve started to feel that, for as technical and wild as Pyrrhon is, they haven’t put much thought into the -whole- album as the track order is poorly arranged. The trio of “Unraveling” songs should definitely be much earlier in the album. Anyhow, the final track on this is just incredible while the rest of the album bleeds together for the first several listens. I don’t mind when immersion in sound and structure takes repeated listens but I found the resulting overall ‘melodic’ statements of the album were disappointingly absent leaving a lot of theatrics and noise metal gimmickry without a few moments to remember.


Artist Pyrrhon
Type Album
Released August 11, 2017
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Must listen. 3.85/5.0