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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Sludge: Pyramido - "Salt"

I'm not sure I should seek any parallels between Easter Sunday's marquee star and Malmö, Sweden's Pyramido. In fact, short of the beards and sandblasted skin, the two have little in common. The band's sophomore release presents enough true-to-form sludge/doom, however, that a dissection of these six crusty clumps takes precedence over hollow sunshine, empty plastic eggs, and the ache in your jaw from gnawing that over-cooked ham.

It's strange to think the band's 2009 debut was entitled Sand, as 2011's Salt is an exercise in keeping eyes closed, skin covered, and dials cranked. But beyond the heavy lies a study in musicianship and a dash of psychedelia that makes this Sunday Sludge a tad ethereal. This five piece knows when to let things breathe just before dragging listeners through another spell of caked eardrums.

The slow, chainsaw grind of Walking Blind sets a low chop, but pendulums quickly swing up to greet Dan Bengtsson's tortured/torturous vocals. With drums that fall like splintered timber and a steady crunch under soaked boots, Pyramido's sound is gigantic. You formulate thoughts on where this record will go until a sandstorm breaks the rhythm and a guitar wallow stays cool, calm, and foreboding.

Enter Left To Rot, with its sludge pistons plodding through a sea of Viktor Forss cymbals that almost separate themselves from the rest of the drumkit. Thick grooves waiver along a candle-flickering march up a path of wet stones flanked by zipline rhythm shifts and threats of rattlesnakes. Things grow slow and dirty before sauntering into an awesomely robotic, prog-metal blueprint that leaves listeners with a strangely welcome dysgeusia that tastes better than you'd expect.

The sludge is never more evident than on Onward. A steady, murky drive is interrupted by explosions of grind, while simplicity is gradually erased. Bengtsson's bass-ribbon peek into a mountaintop seance is only outdone by the musicianship of all of Pyramido, which is something to absolutely behold. The guitars of Henrik Wendel and Dan Hedlund rise like a phoenix, Vik's drums are expertly realized, and that bass keeps things low and loose enough to formulate what is perhaps Pyramido's crowning achievement in songcraft.

Sure, we've highlighted Pyramido's sludge barrage, but the dripping prog of Saltsoder is an intermission of sorts. The easy whispers craft a balance to the album's controlled chaos. Moving like a racing heartbeat, the lacy string arrangements sound like the backing soundtrack to a film montage. Hollow Worlds brings immediate doom, swaying back and forth after a severe pummeling. The pauses and timing are executed with precision, and the method to the madness grows clearer upon subsequent listens. Rhythmically and stylistically diverse, this complete track holds the common thread of pairing grime with blistered, blood-soaked pipes.

Pyramido have progressed into that rare quintet that represents enormous gravity, impeccable timing, and accomplished musicianship. Every note from every instrument is exactly as they envisioned it to sound. Where lesser bands trip over their ambition, Pyramido understand the importance of staying grounded. Yes, they'll get dirty. Yes, they'll trip out. And yes, they'll get your attention. Salt is so much more than a tutorial on constructing an album strewn with brilliance. What else lies within (or underneath) these songs, however, is likely to vary upon your own dissection. Go find it.

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