PESTILENGTH – Basom Gryphos (2022)REVIEW

Wherein the human eye, bloodied and straining in view of unthinkable cosm-abyssal sight bursts just as the outline of emergent Eldritch forms, disembodied torsos the size of celestial bodies, reveal themselves in the shadow of our newly formed red-gigantic sun. The shapely curves of unknowable abysm burnt in cinematic frame upon the mind of the unseeing, we know the prismatic beauty of the creature that would serve us unending void and in turn become obsessed with remembrance of this orgasmic blindness at the strike of endtyme. In presentation of their second full-length album dissonant blackened death/doom metal duo Pestilength once again channel the relationship between the uncaring void and the perceptual follies of humanity’s search for patternation and order in times of existential duress. As was the case with past releases, ‘Basom Gryphos‘ exists in a scene of ever-twisting chase of elusive yet quite large impressionistic forms; We so often find folks using “angular” to describe the erratic or hard-cut rhythm guitar ethos of dissonant extreme metal yet these works aren’t sharpened edges or clean-cut entity, instead voicing their ruin via blunted, club-tipped weapons of impact and suffocating murk. Nowadays the Basque duo are delivering blows with more purposefully set bludgeon, increasingly colorful and gloomed-over works, painterly illustrations which are meant to be viewed within the blur of mayhemic motion.

If there were one suggestion I could direct to the ear of those burnt out on dissonance in black/death and doomed extremism it’d be that ‘Basom Gryphos‘ finds a reasonable enough way to show their brush strokes, to the point that Pestilength no longer appears entirely impressionistic or fixated on one type of movement or atmosphere. There are in fact riffs all over this album and they generally make sense in the context of the foamy, dread-bearing pieces herein. When guitarist, bassist, and vocalist M. and drummer N. formed the band in 2018 I wouldn’t say they’d necessarily found that knack (or, balance) for a few years, not until the ‘Shrine (The Eilatik Parallels)‘ (2020) EP gave us a most direct cut to lucidity beneath their debut (‘Eilatik‘, 2020) in preview of the skeletal features of their arrangements. From my point of view this’d inferred some thoughts on modulating focus, finding what the truly effective verve of Pestilength was by cutting their ideas into several smaller releases that’d emphasize one direction or another. ‘Apore Flesh‘ EP from that same year found a most atmospheric direction set beside one of their most effective pieces to date and ended the exploration that’d lead us unto the path of ‘Basom Gryphos‘ today.

A great sickness of perception finds its way within the mind palace by way of attrition, a forceful and worming battalion acting as one great slugging horror. The first point of evidence is the trudge and hammer of “Phorme”, an bluntest affront to the senses empowered by riffs which act as sludge-drenched bodies against rampart. In striking the ears with showers of dissolute sulfuric wrath the simple bombastic spectacle of extra-step downtuned post-‘Covenant’ death metal writhe achieves, by repetition, a bit of momentum worthy of earlier Altarage or their more bestial counterparts. Without skimming past the first few works that build the language that serves this point of considerable momentum, this’d been when the walls begin to splinter and burst under the weight of ‘Basom Gryphos‘ as the new yet entirely precedented skin of Pestilength was revealed.

“Thelegm” helps us begin to formulate the argument that this album is ultimately structured with some classicist death metal and death/doom inspiration in mind and not just a blackened-death/doom metal record with a few dips in the action. The major statement of the song is its (admittedly somewhat buried) death/doom metal riffing within the later portion of the song, surrounded by thickly resonant guitar layers and what I’d consider Immolation-esque tempo play. The movement leading up to that point nearly recalls Cianide (by way of ‘Gateways to Annihilation‘) at their most blurred sludginess, less a meandering flow and more a directly voiced haunt which ebbs towards its spectacular last third. From there we find the greater action of the full listen bloom heading into the incredible realm offered by Side B.

“Tephra Codex” takes the melodic yet stamping percussion at the end of “Thelegm” and transforms it into a quasi-tribal percussive introduction, forming soft-structured havoc beneath dagger-scratched and spiralized riffs to start. The song soon molds into something a bit more ‘Mortal Throne of Nazarene‘ in spirit as we begin to fully unveil the erratic rhythmic language of Pestilength as it has formed today and I’d consider it a most key moment on the album. This song also features some lyrical contributions in collaboration with Portal‘s The Curator, of course I’ve no idea what those lyrics are, but the song itself definitely feels like they’ve put some extra emphasis on patternation to accentuate this guested melding of minds and the result is a huge highlight for the full listen. “Exertion” follows up on the conclusion of said piece with a lumbering, dread-filled descent, careening down the chaotic chasm presented with some of the most satisfying progressions, and complete phrasal guitar statements, available to ‘Basom Gryphos‘. By the time we’re landing within the psychedelic leads and open flourishes of “Chrome” M. has already fully formed the voice available to this album and its rhythmic focus, reaching the point of playing with rhythm in a most painterly way while still keeping that ‘Swarth‘ edged feeling alive throughout the entirety of the second half of the album… before a spaceship takes off at the very end of the record.

By cutting through the columnar smoke and bestial weirding of their sound with a handful of choice death metal riffs while maintaining their oppressive, voluminous black metal-doomed sound design Pestilength reveal just enough of the jagged landscape of their work to impress I, the ongoing sceptic of their efforts, and ‘Basom Gryphos‘ has ultimately impressed via material, performance and presentation. I’d argue there is yet more structure to imply in seeking a golden ratio of ruins, beast, and void-scape but as is we’ve seen the outline of many great horrors herein and thankfully been given a chance to meditate upon imminent doom under their greater spell. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (80/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Basom Gryphos
LABEL(S):Nuclear Winter Records,
Sentient Ruin,
Goat Throne
RELEASE DATE:March 11th, 2022

Help Support Grizzly Butts’ goals with a donation:

Please consider donating directly to site costs and project funding using PayPal.