PYLAR – Abysmos (2022)REVIEW

Occultists of the abyss, robed and masked in telluric invocation of unnamable deities, now present their sixth host of themes set outside mankind’s memoria, calling forth times of purpose and devotion set long before the lost dialogue with our great sphere was garroted. Chthonic tones twine dimensions into overlapping masses, chasmic voices reciting the old abyssal tongue as the physical compulsion of Sevilla, Spain-based droning psychedelic doom metal entity Pylar finds them staring into the moon-cast mirrors of the psyche, conveying the tremors of the abyss within. The second in a proposed trilogy and their sixth record overall, ‘Abysmos‘ continues one step beyond the cosmic horror inspired thread of their previous album; This time channeled from a differently stated angle albeit still with consideration for extreme metal’s atmospheric dissonance, applying it to a unique form of droning psychedelic doom metal landing our experience afar from the chaotic realm and deep within the throat of the utter dark.

Pylar formed in 2012 as a group of, I believe, four fellowes using their collective experience and uniquely developed artistic voicing to shape, modulate and occasionally improvise a tapestry of unknown species. Thankfully their major spiritual connection as a group was psychedelia and experimental doom, often touching upon tribalistic/shamanic percussion and erratically charged doom metal riffing to start. After a handful of demos and a well-noted debut (‘Poderoso se alza en my‘, 2013) it was clear that they were onto something transporting, yet each release revealed strengthening Eldritch insight into the improvisational and non-linear side of the band. This is a tricky thing to pin down, but Pylar‘s sound only became more arcane and naturalistic over time trading organs and heavy distortion for watery space rock synth collages and brass horns as their sound began blossoming into what I’d consider a next echelon of their semi-improvisational drone psychedelia on ‘A ella te conduce la sagrada espyral‘ in 2017, wherein they explored jazz influenced movements and noise. The best parts of that album were its darkest undertones and I’ve always supposed this latest trilogy came from the idea to reveal that darkest side… Embrace it, even.

Comparisons won’t necessarily get us anywhere in terms of honing in on just one aspect of Pylar‘s sound. A good example is tribal or shamanic drumming influenced doom metal such as Caronte, Zaum or even Sunnata where they don’t quite get us nearby this far more experimental and non-commercial band’s sound. If we flush out a more experimental example, such as Trial of the Bow‘s darkest songs like “Inverloch“, we can at least infer the embodiment of ancient peoples and their lost spiritual realms despite exploring largely known and lasting voices. Searching for precedence will leave most folks lost in the waves of psychedelic doom jam bands the world over beyond that point — The outcome of this exploration allows us to consider Pylar something purposefully unique, though we can look to their related projects (Orthodox, Blooming Làtigo, Doce Fuegos) for what each musician brings to the freely built jam that their music intends to be, as they select the right sort of resonance per the themed album. You could chuck ’em into the doom bin, even the experimental and ambient category, yet there’ll be no good reason to consider and Pylar record expected or plain in any sense.

The abyss, in translation. In review of their previous album ‘Horror Cósmyco‘ in 2019 I’d suggested: “When I entered the experience wanting [typical] rhythms and not feeling, I was irritated. When I entered the experience wanting to feel something, I was struck with a great pang of anxiety as the last song finished and found it entirely distorting.” with the suggestion being that the residue of the listening experience is not necessarily going to be pleasurable or normative in any sense and I believe this to be doubly true for ‘Abysmos‘, perhaps via direct intent we are a wailing soul in approach of the void. Pylar specifically cites experimental black metal groups like Oranssi Pazuzu and Blut Aus Nord alongside more obvious references like Swans in developing the intent of these pieces as a difficult experience, a trundle down a cave of volcanic shuddering unease which you should feel the apex of hit during “Crepitación solar”, the major second half of the experience. Even if you do find it to be cryptic, meandering and perhaps painful that is perhaps the exact right response and it’ll be up to you to valuate the personal distort available to the listening experience. I personally love it and have found this to be one of Pylar‘s most effective treatments, illustrations to date.

French horns, violins, synthesizers, live drums (and electronic pads) guide us along the haunted path as comparatively subdued guitar and bass performances figure the alchemical task at hand, the nearly seventeen minute opening dissolution of the self that is “La caída (Descenso definitivo a través de las Profundidades Mayores)”. It isn’t until the vocals present their ranting and riffing within this downward spiral that the piece indicates our direction is downward-echoing, a dissension with the flesh itself. Though the path that this extended piece presents allows for plenty of notable breaks into flourish and Chaos Echœs-esque dark ambiance the implication of rock-based doom metal structures is noticeably void, and this will likely make folks not attuned to experimental performance and improvisation vexed at the least. To complete the ~20 minutes of Side A the even more jammed rush of “Fervor Espiral” hones in on the drummer’s knack for edge-of-your-seat movements and restless fills as laser synths and effects-cut vocals raise to a body-high worth din, and well if you know a bit of Spanish you’ll see the song titles clearly suggest the intent of each piece herein. This first side/half of the album does a fine job of conveying the greater intent of ‘Abysmos‘ and stepping further outside of their own realms, no longer transmuting normative metal ideals into jammed pieces but creating their own dark space beyond.

The aforementioned “Crepitación solar” ensures fans of psychedelic doom won’t entirely walk away from the trance of it all with some more recognizable rhythms as a desert-woven bassline and shimmering guitars drive the opening of the piece as a warming-up symphony threatens from the orchestral pit. This piece is even more ritualistic, distressed and often hitting points of discord as elements collide in its second half, yet the drumming holds it together as if it were a sensationalized psych-jammed reinterpretation of mid-90’s Neurosis. The build of this piece is even more impressive than that of “La caída (Descenso definitivo a través de las Profundidades Mayores)” and would ultimately be the main event for my own taste as I wheeled through the album time and time again. The escalating pace around ~13:40 minutes into the song was always a thrill to rediscover. The fourth and final piece is about three and a half minutes of droning transition, a moaning river of souls that may just as well have been tacked onto the end of the third piece.

Abysmos‘ works quite well as a seated listen, a trance-inducing sublimation from implied heavy and extreme metal elements into something entirely else, yet it is a performance that hinges upon the unexpected and well, again, a performance first and foremost. I personally only enjoy improvised and experientially transformative music in moderation unless there is a hook or a hot spot within the performance that pulls me back in. I’d found a couple of highlights to detail but the nature of this album is a bit more subdued than that of the more active (and abrasive) ‘Horror Cósmyco‘ so, my recommendation takes into account that the context of previous releases is vital to understanding the language of Pylar and stick within their realm. Then again, perhaps becoming entirely vexed and horrified by the experience is desirous as the cold, scaly hand of the abyss caresses the ear. I’ve developed some great admiration for what this band does in terms of unperturbed psych-doom exodus and their admirably focused invocations, but also for their art direction on this (and past) releases. Your results will be entirely personal. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (80/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
LABEL(S):Humo Internacional
RELEASE DATE:March 4th, 2022

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