After naming The Mother of Virtues 2014’s best album, it can be unambiguously inferred that I have quite the soft spot for New York’s strangest and most horrific four-piece, Pyrrhon. After Relapse dropped them from their roster earlier this year, citing, of all things, a “lack of commercial success,” the group was quickly snatched up by underground micro-label Handshake Inc., who are doing the world a service by releasing the new EP, Growth Without End. It’s fucking nuts.
The goal of Growth Without End, according to vocalist Doug Moore, was to record a more grind-influenced EP, essentially a collection of “Oracle of Nassau”-length songs focused more on speed and chaos than groove and atmosphere. As it stands, or rather, sits in a crumbling pile, this EP runs for about 14 minutes, but you’ll need to spend a few hours on it to really figure out what’s going on. Between the uncontrolled war crime of “Forget Yourself” and the pestilential disgust of “Turing’s Revenge,” there’s a lot on display here.
Perhaps more conspicuous than ever are Pyrrhon‘s lyrics, which solidify Doug Moore’s place as death metal’s best writer. All of the pent-up Malthusian horror of The Mother of Virtues has been refined into an even more personal and disturbing attack on the psyche, folding a morbid fascination with the machinations of cancer into a stream of comfort-dissolving retches. Growth Without End bombards with a constellation of maladies, from the physical (“Cancer Mantra”), and mental (“The Mass”), to the historic (“Turing’s Revenge”) and sociological (“Viral Content”), all composed of a thousand novae of condensed fear and malice.
Instrumentally, Growth Without End proves even more indecipherable and overwhelming than The Mother of Virtues; the songs are shorter, faster, and more intense, the longest and slowest, “Turing’s Revenge” is still under five minutes and well beyond allegro. Group improvisation still plays a leading role in several songs, with Dylan DiLella’s supremely heterodox guitar work flying the twin flags of atonality and dissonance over Erik Malave’s prominent and melodically integral basswork.
Despite a discouraging setback, Pyrrhon are pressing forward with their most extreme material yet; it is not in their nature to die. And so they press on reciting their own cancerous mantra: “Always keep growing and changing. Never stop spreading.”