Pyrithe – Monuments to Impermanence Review

Cover art can be misleading, but here it’s a clue. Reflecting that twisted marine merging of human and coral, Pyrithe‘s sound is chaos, artfully displayed. To their sludgy post-metal concoction, they add the use of coconuts, egg-shakers, kantele, and literal trash as musical elements. They also favor a disjointed, dissonant approach to songwriting, taking a leaf out of the more experimental edges of death metal, and beyond. In fact, they’ve even roped in Doug Moore of Pyrrhon and Seputus, the influence of which acts is quite evident. It’s heavy, it’s multifaceted, it’s a tiny bit mad, but is it any good?

Monuments to Impermanence is its own little world to be sure. Pyrithe drags you through the portal violently with “Asurviance”‘s cacophonous muddle of atonal riffing and crazed drumming, and pushes you, stumbling, back out over scattershot clattering cymbals at “Ekphrastik II”‘s close. It’s not all savagery, however, as the album frequently dips into a humming, post-doom atmosphere of a more introspective mood. Being the exact opposite to the teeth-baring furor elsewhere, this should be jarring but it rarely is. The album’s variety does mean that the range of comparators shifts depending on the song, or moment in question. Moodier sections recall Cult of Luna; the dissonant technicality Pyrrhon; the metallic mélange The Grasshopper Lies Heavy; the crawling slow-downs and drawn-out screams Amenra. But Monuments to Impermanence is greater than the sum of these parts, with an oddly compelling quality that grounds its success.

Pyrithe pull off their disparate styles (mostly) very well. With the help of not only a bass, but a contrabass—read: a very low bass—the heavy sounds heavy. Not only this, it’s memorable. Stomping refrains on “Glioblastoma,” “Luminous,” and “Earthen Anchors” are denser and stickier than cement mixed with peanut butter, while “Asurviance” kicks harder than a pissed-off mule. Elsewhere, this thickness takes on a gorgeous syrupy quality through a smooth, synth-heavy guitar line (“In Praise of the Enochian Trickster,”), or a smokey one through reverberating ambience (“Heaving Roots,” “Ekphrastik I”). It pulls together because the group layer their many sounds and instruments in a way that helps calmer passages carry intrigue, and vicious ones pack a punch. Cymbals ebb and flow into audibility (“Heaving Roots II,” “Ekphrastik II”), creating tension in stillness. Effortless rollovers accentuate already energetic tempos (“Asurviance,” “Earthen Anchors”). Solemn sung and spoken-word melting into the soundscape (“In Praise of the Enochian Trickster”) add profundity. The music therefore has depth, on multiple axes.

Performances across the board are stellar. Vocals from John Kerr, Zakk Weston, and guests Doug Moore (“Earthen Anchors”) and Vicky Carbone (“Glioblastoma”) are consistently savage. Those tracks might be the best ones here for their rawness and relentless energy—see especially the wailing howl in the opening to “Glioblastoma.” As before alluded to, the drumming (Kerr) is stirringly inventive and technical, and the basses (Weston) are hefty. Alternately stabbing, plucking, and strumming guitar styles (Kerr, Zach Miller), none of which could quite accurately be described as melodious, give the music an irregular yet charming structure. Synths effectively provide mood without being overt or tacky, and the unconventional instrumentation—particularly Max Johnson’s kantele—is pleasingly idiosyncratic without being explicitly weird. Sometimes the quieter passages do spring a bit too suddenly and for too long (“Earthen Anchors,” “Ekphrastik I”). “Heaving Roots II” in particular is longer than an ambient instrumental has any right to be. These do break up the flow. But then again, this is music not designed to ‘flow’ so much as drag you along.

Monuments to Impermanence is a strange, savage symphony; a listening experience you can’t help but enjoy in one sitting. Pyrithe claim to view the world “as apocalyptic and dreadful but through a lens of hilarity and absurdity.” I couldn’t think of a better way to describe their music.

Rating: Very Good
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Gilead Media
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: April 29th, 2022

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