Sunday, August 4, 2013
Sunday Sludge: Pyres - "Year Of Sleep"
Ya see? Ya see what happens when you try to make technology work for you? Bandcamp is great, don't misunderstand me. But somehow bandcamp's user (Seth) managed to open two windows of the same page, resulting in the same track playing twice at different starting points simultaneously. I immediately concluded Pyres and their July release Year Of Sleep to be quite chaotic, furious, and oddly structured. So today marks my last experiment blending coffee with opiates and stale malt liquor.
Starting over entirely, I found these four Torontonians to be versatile, skilled songsmiths who dish one of the best metal offerings of 2013. Year Of Sleep is a tricky album to pin down and stuff into any of metal's snooty corners, so I'll offer the assertion that you must be musicians first and a metal band second. Think about it, then think about the vice versa. Pyres make the point clear by delivering a heavy, daunting exercise in melding sludge and post-metal while also displaying proficient skills and deft composition.
Year Of Sleep is six songs in forty minutes, all balanced somewhere between low-slung rhythmic thickness and ascending swirls of dueling guitars. It's all here, dudes. Rub the murk on your gums or drift with the stoner sensibilities; surge and snarl or wail and wander. Proximity Anxiety leads off with bell-rung descent highlighted with a gravel-caked vocal. The drumwork lays more than a foundation here; there's a mood, an energy, and an unrelenting lead that runs a ring through your nose and drags you on a progressive haunt, shifting and redirecting without the surge ever losing step. From these opening moments to the uptempo ambition of The Everbearing's ultimate warp-out diffusion, this is an album that's sweet and sticky from dusk to dawn.
Whether the rhythms are trotting or trampling is hardly the point. The aim of Deserter may be dusty trailblazing or pummeled shakes, but what's most impressive is how well all elements work with and against one another. Pyres seem to have a strong hold on instrumentation, but more importantly they demonstrate a collective conviction that transcends all else. But let's remember why we're here: the bounce, the groove, the buzzing swirl of distortion... these make you forget that this metal is pretty fuckin' smart.
The chaotic spiral and post-metal kickstarts find sinking sludge hidden at every step. Atlas Cast No Shadow sheds a long doom introduction to meld the filth and the polish. Stomps bury the pregnant pauses, again showcasing drumwork that picks up, quicks up, and abruptly blacks you out. Call it a pendulum of gargantuan proportions, bro. Tight and trim as The Anchorite is, it's shrouded with a permeating spook. Sure, the song spirals into and above itself, but as it slows and cautiously scans the surroundings, the desperate reflection of shifts and screeches is one of the album's highlights.
For all the quick-slugging riffage, there's a captivating and cathartic tapestry of sound spread far and thick. Most notable on the disc's title track, the atmospheric passages almost nod to Pelican until the vocal varies from caged pleas to confident declarations. Torment builds on a chop and stagger, but the evolution cruises into warbled oblivion and back. Again, timing and execution separate Pyres from their more well-decorated contemporaries.
Continual, tireless evolutions complement the blistering clips. Year Of Sleep is as much atmosphere as it is annihilation. Heave, relent, repeat... Pyres hit fifth gear without scorching the transmission. These songs are all-at-once rueful and hopeful, looking forward but struggling to push upward. Without jarring, the album is powerful and arresting. Every tempo works, every moment is relevant. Almost clean, hard to swallow, and impossible to enjoy just once... this sludge puts on a clinic. Mr. Ford, the doctor will see you now.