Review Summary: One of the most brilliant, original, and frustrating releases in recent memory.
Ironically, more and more bands that enter the experimental or progressive music scene seem carbon copies of previous innovators. Post rock in particular boasts countless imitators of giants like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Explosions in the sky, and Sigur Ros, and finding truly unique bands within this sea of plagiarism becomes harder by the day. Despite this, hope is not entirely lost, for every once in awhile a band comes along that truly challenges conventions and remains true to their artistic vision. Pyramids, with the release of their self titled debut, is one of those bands.
From my introduction you might assume Pyramids can be lumped into the post rock category, but this really isn’t true. They may have been influenced by post rock and shoegaze artists like My Bloody Valentine and Loveliescrushing, but they were also influenced in equal proportion by numerous black metal artists and avant garde musicians. The sound of Pyramids really belongs to no genre and it’s a shame they’ve been pigeonholed as post rock or post metal.
Actually describing what Pyramids sounds like is an extremely difficult task. The members have said the music of Pyramids attempts to create a new texture and indeed this album is all about opposing textures working together to create something new. The mix includes calm post rock guitars, intense black metal distortion, beautiful falsetto vocals, screamed vocals, and drums that sound like a steam press, often heard at the same time and yet all sounding distant. Sometimes this strange mix is extremely soothing like on opener “Sleds” and “The Echo of Something Lovely” and sometimes it is horrifying and mysterious like on the closer “1,2,3”. Occasionally the two extremes meet; yielding awe inspiring results on standout track “End Resolve”. The myriad layers of melody and noise are all strung together beautifully by producer James Plotkin and the end product is one of the most meticulously produced albums I have ever heard.
There really is nothing conventional about the album or the band. I mentioned a few standout tracks, but the album really needs to be listened to all the way through. In fact, when I first heard this music it was hard to remember any track in any sort of detail as they all seemed to run together. Listening all the way through is no easy task either, for Pyramids provides no reference point for their art and the result is incredibly dense and noisy and extraordinarily difficult to comprehend. This album requires intense concentration and persistence, even rivaling the great Choirs of the Eye in difficulty, but it will reveal itself in time.
The second disk of this self titled album features remixes of a few songs by some underground legends including Toby Driver (Kayo Dot), Colin Marston(Behold… the arctopus), James Plotkin (Khanate), Jesu, and others. These individuals provide a context for the sound of Pyramids, for they all belong in the same league of innovation. Pyramids have truly created something new with this Hyrdahead release, but above all else, they display an immense amount of promise. It might seem different, but this band has a purpose and a philosophy which they follow to breathtaking results. If Pyramids continues their musical journey, they have the potential to become legends of experimental music.