Review Summary: Pyrexia's fourth effort wears its influences on its sleeve, and, unfortunately, fails to move far beyond.
Having become a genre noted for its diversity and experimentation, it is difficult to argue Pyrexia’s place in the contemporary death metal canon. Formed in 1990, the year succeeding the release of the seminal Altars of Madness, it is clear that the titular Feast of Iniquity is hardly a dynamic progression. Sharper production and the occasional spark of inspiration aside, Pyrexia’s fourth album is doubtlessly derivative. However, it is to its credit that this does not fault it as an enjoyable- if imperfect- listen.
The influences of death metal in its nascence are abundant throughout Feast of Iniquity. Riffs offer a balance between weighty crunch and twinges of thrash, evidenced on notable opener The Pendulum; the effect is reminiscent of early Malevolent Creation, often leading to fresh and interesting song structures. Drumming is also solid throughout, complementing the guitars with engaging, although not innovative, patterns. Interesting shifts in tempo and time signature from all instruments allow Pyrexia’s notable technical ability to shine on particular tracks, the stand-out grooves of Panzer Tank Lobotomy an example. It is here that a spot of variation enlivens their otherwise template death metal sound. Unfortunately, such welcome diversions are few and far between; diversity tends to be mistaken for the differences between slow chug and repetitive shred.
Vocal performance ranges from average to questionable, styles varying from gutturals to more contemporary roars. In both cases, nothing captures attention- the lyrics are generic, if serviceable, and complement the instruments without overly impressing. On occasion, when taking a more traditional line, this trend is bucked- although these moments are few in number. This is Feast of Iniquity’s chief flaw: Pyrexia is a perfectly capable band, and produces strong groove-driven death in the 1990s vein, but fail in an increasingly evolving scene to provide anything arresting. That is not to label the music disinteresting, as Feast of Iniquity proves a technically competent and cohesive offering. However, it is to say that, excluding the unique Panzer Tank Lobotomy, it stands as something old rather than something new.
For a fan of traditional death metal and one not predisposed against a smattering of modern influences, Pyrexia’s fourth album will provide an engaging and nostalgic diversion. There is enough here for Feast of Iniquity to warrant a cursory listen, but little that will encourage the listener to return. Often tantalising, but more commonly painting by numbers, Pyrexia have birthed a solid but uninspired effort- an entertaining distraction, but just don’t expect anything more.