Review Summary: The Mother of Virtues in modern extreme metal happens to be a good helping of honesty and emotion.
Dissonance is the mother of virtuesssssssssssss...
If you look around in the world today you'll probably find that everything is relatively the same, stuff happens, world leaders speak, people die, illnesses thrive, all that kind of shit, but we're so used to the manner in which it is described that we don't really take much interest in it, instead the majority of us take the routes of escapism and pay infinitely more attention to things as far removed from reality as possible, and that's okay it really is, because not everybody wants to care about the world, I usually don't want to be caring about this place but I still do anyway because it is in fact that place in which I live.
But sometimes there will come an effort that is wholly representative of the state the world is in, whether it be about the good or the bad, it will happen once in a blue moon because for once they want to make a statement instead of drown in metaphors, and that's just as good, if not better, because some of us do want to care about the world, I usually don't want to be - blah blah, the same story really, the world is also repetitive...
This album isn't, honestly, and that's where it shines, because in the slew of mediocre releases that plagued 2014, The Mother of Virtues was released, an album that I actually did not want to listen to, because the internet and word of mouth is inconsistent and really stupid half the time, so let me get to the point, if you've heard of Pyrrhon, you've either heard one of these two things; "they're like Gorguts but bad" or "they're good but they're like Gorguts", and all I have to say to either of these is, no, no and go away. Or maybe you're unique in it and didn't care, got into the band anyway and formulated your own goddamn opinion like a good person.
Now this isn't me telling you to enjoy the album, this is me telling you to listen to it based on the fact that there's a lot to be enjoyed in this album if you like the new "post-death" movement that's rising by the minute, headed by Ulcerate, Gorguts with their new proggy sound, Baring Teeth, so on and so forth, now including Pyrrhon as possibly the most vicious take on it lately that we've not been accustomed to yet.
Post-death has become an atmospheric affair, if you want the most obvious example you should go and listen to Everything is Fire by Ulcerate, whilst easily the less developed and more brutalizing affair they've ever released, it's also the place where it really all started out, because if anybody calls Obscura post-death they're probably not sure what they're talking about, and you should tell them that.
Obscura was the place where Gorguts fell into a different dimension and churned out an album of batshit insane rhythms and odd jazz structured death metal that sounds on first-listen like what death metal must sound like to somebody who isn't a fan of death metal, inaccessible, dense, incoherent and above all, noisy, it was the new kind of tech-death, the weird kind that isn't just pointless noodling, but will sound like pointless noodling if you hate it. It's not post-death though, post-death is essentially death metal injected with the good parts of post-rock, prog and ambient music, which results in things like Baring Teeth, later Ulcerate albums, Flourishing and now Pyrrhon. It's a wide range of sounds that the different headers all utilize in their own respective ways, but we're going to talk about Pyrrhon right now, and they're the headers of the ultra-dissonant, dense and experimental side of post-death. Injecting crusty punk, sludge and some Deathspell Omega-esque black metal sensibilities into their music with the post-death formula, they create a dense, disturbing and above-all organic masterwork of death metal.
The album art is what reflects the nature of the album, an organic and festering husk of infested flesh, writhing in abject agony as it wails ceaselessly at the torment it has suffered. The lyrics are also particularly well written for death metal fitting both the music and the theme of the album extremely well, dealing primarily with the ugliest aspects of living that plague modern man but don't get talked about, things that skulk behind closed doors and things that are draped over with black veils. Most notable in this array of disturbing tales are the tracks Invisible Injury and the title track, the former dealing with the subject matter of the ramifications of intense beauty treatments, and the latter being a disturbing look at human fecundity and the ultimate fate of the world, the world will basically suffer a cataclysmic orgy and drown in semen, is basically what the lyrics are put in a very badly written and concise way.
The music, which I have yet to address, is composed of D-standard tuned guitar that is played with an array of alien, angular and maddeningly complex chords, slides and whammy bar molestation, vocals that range from typical death metal growling to a surprisingly unique mid-register bestial snarl that simply DRIPS with venomous hatred, complex and rewarding drum-work and, last but most definitely not least, audible bass! Amazing, it happened! And not obnoxious fretless bass noodling, just good crunchy BASS.
But you know what else this music avoids that most extreme metal isn't avoiding - thanks Fallujah/Immolation/blah blah, even though I love you all, I am looking at you right now - and turns it into something wonderful? Good production, handled by none other than Ryan Jones and underground metal genius Colin Marston, who creates easily my favourite production job of 2014, a resonating, dirty and not-quite-as-cavernous-as-Incantation-but-cavernous-enough-to-simply-breathe-dynamic-range production job, quite similar to all of the Flourishing releases and the recent Gorguts album Colored Sands actually, which is not surprising since Colin both produced and played on that album, which was also fucking amazing by the way.
The dynamic range on this album is simply fantastic, the music can breathe in a way that the majority of modern extreme metal is overly keen to avoid, drowning you in noodling, riffs and endless blasts beats, which was novel and cool for a while but, it's been a few years and every band is becoming indistinguishable from the rest, which renders releases like Mother of Virtues a very hopeful breath of fresh, albeit, disgusting air that I absolutely adore and hope to hear more of.
The album from start to finish changes from maddenlingly heavy and dense passages, to very Ulcerate-ish moments that wash over you like a sickly black river, urging you to drown in it, as it eventually comes back to blistering heaviness with a startling speed to immediately flay you alive. And as I mentioned about the dynamics before, the dynamics extend to the changes of atmosphere in the music, the melodies are dark as all hell, the bass is buzzing and unrepetantly angry, like a swarm of angry hornets, the drums either stampede towards you like raging animals or slowly stalk you in the darkness, and the vocals at one very notable point on the album, even become a normal, yet strained voice, aching to inform you; "this is the world, we have made for ourselves..."
The only fault in this album is that there is not as much exploration on some of the tracks as you would probably hope from my description, tracks such as "The Parasite in Winter" come across as kind of rote, and almost as if a filler-esque buildup to the title track, which I can't complain about because the track itself is highly enjoyable, it's just not quite as disgustingly magical as the rest of the album manages to be, however, this barely subtracts from the enjoyment of the album, we still have an absolute monster of an album on our plate here.
I wish to conclude with one statement, the only time this album sounds anywhere near close to "ripping off Obscura" is on the track "Sleeper Agent" which is easily one of the more "catchy" songs on the album if you can even say that. And if you think the album is that close to ripping off Obscura otherwise, well, I'm sorry but you probably missed that nothing on Obscura was structured in the same way as any song save one on this album, and the songwriting approach couldn't be any more different, I guess you just think any post-death is just bad Gorguts, and that makes me think that anything you are is just a bad fan of music with little insight.