Review Summary: A solid and enjoyable offering of chaotic and fairly technical death metal. More generic in nature than the deranged offerings that were to follow but still showing snatches of the dissonant brilliance that was to follow.
I first caught wind of Pyrrhon wth the release of 'An Excellent servant but a Terrible Master' in 2011. Their utterly unhinged blend of death metal heaviness and mathcore like chaotic intensity immediately struck a chord with me as it evoked the spastic approach of outfits like Ulcerate and Converge which I have loved for years. While the influence is certainly detectable, Pyrrhon sounds as different from these bands as they do from each other, with a frenzied and disturbing sound all of their own. Having listened to and loved everything else in their catalogue, I eventually thought I would give 'Fever Kingdoms' a spin.
I can't say that I was hugely suprised by what I heard. This EP basically showcases an embryonic Pyrrhon, firmly rooted in technical and sometimes even groovy death metal. The musicianship is still astounding, and the riffs are all well-thought and precise, but on the whole the band's approach is far more straight forward and gut-punchingly visceral. Doug Moore's vocal delivery, while still varying from low roars to higher-register shrieks, for the main part sticks with a more generic mid-range growl. The lyrical content, as with all the other Pyrrhon releases, is twisted genius, and I must say that of the majority of the bands I listen to, I always make a point of checking out their lyrics. The vocals are a lot harder to understand on this work for some reason, possibly due to their production being slightly muddier than on the later albums. On the other hand, the rest of the instruments appear to have been mixed pretty decently, with the bass being clearly audible, something that appears worthy of kudos in the field of tech-death sometimes.
The songs themselves are for the most part, speedy, slightly thrashy excercises in tech-death riiffage. For some reason I am reminded a little of pestilence's 'Consuming Impulse', perhaps due to the fact that both band's were displaying early signs of transitioning to forms more liberated from genre conventions. Each song is characterised by one or two pretty enjoyable riffs, with the opening's to 'God's Parabola' and the faintly scandinavian intro to 'Baudelaire' being two personal favourites. The drumming is also a real highlight of 'Kingdoms', with Alex Cohen putting on a creative and unerringly precise performance. Every now and then, the band will throw a cheeky curve-ball to keep the listener on their toes, like the slow, groovy (and actually pretty decent) opener to 'God's Parabola, or the nifty little bass break that pops out off nowhere roughly 45 second's into Pascal's wager.
In all, this is a very strong debut EP with nothing that could be considered filler or boring and plenty of killer instrumentation. If I had tuned into this at the actual time of release, I would have rated it a shade higher than I have here. However, it must be said that in comparison to the band's later works, these songs are nothing but straightforward, if well-executed tech-death.There is a lot more predictability here, and a far less dissonant and disturbing sound. While still enjoyable in it's own right, the band was yet to establish it's true identity and niche at this poiint, and I think it is fair to say that the material they've provided since then has rendered this EP a comparatively irrelevant yet undeniably sturdy and honest effort.