|Musical Style: Doom Metal||Produced By: Matt Brand|
|Record Label: Quam Libet||Country Of Origin: Switzerland|
|Year Released: 2009||Artist Website: Pylon|
|Tracks: 13||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 77:29|
Switzerland’s Pylon came together in 2002 as a result of a joining between guitarist Matt Brand and drummer Tinu Christen. Later solidifying its line up with the addition of bassist Jan Thomas, the group signed to Quam Libet Records prior to recording its full length debut, Natural Songbirth, in 2004 and sophomore outing The Eternal Wedding Band two years later. Early 2009 finds Pylon returning with its most recent work, the aptly entitled Doom.
It must be noted that in christening the album Doom Pylon is painting a picture of not just the musical direction taken but lyrical as well. Jan Thomas sums it up best: “The title was not conceived as a statement purely about the musical aspect of the compositions; instead, it’s synonymous with the meanings (of) fate, ruin and divine sentence at the center of the lyrics.”
Doom, without question, is based upon a foundation of traditional and epic doom-metal. Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, Count Raven, Trouble, Candlemass, Faith and Nomad Son all come to mind when inviting a direct comparison. That said, when you go beneath the surface you will find a bit more than meets the eye- and that is the occasional progressive, Gothic and extreme overtone that makes its presence felt.
The progressive aspect to the bands songwriting skills are revealed on “Renovatio” and “Doomstone”, two epic plodders combining for over twenty minutes of music (the former moves nearly half its length instrumentally while the latter features the more angst laden sound). “An Angel Tale” brings some Goth-influenced moments and “DeadLove” elements of the extreme. “Ho Theos Erchestai”, “Dream A Dream” and “Psych-Icon” deliver a traditional doom-metal sound while tranquil “Beneath, Beyond” takes a ballad-like approach . A couple of (mostly) instrumental pieces in “In The Shade” and “Hors Des Sentiers Battus” add to the albums versatility.
With thirteen tracks and over seventy-seven minutes of music Doom, for a lack of better words, takes a bit of time to digest. And when factoring in that much of the albums material features melody structures on the subtle side of things, even further patience is required. However, it was my experience that the time invest in the project will be richly rewarded. After repeated listen, for example, I grew to appreciate both the consistency of Doom and how each of its tracks brings just the right amount of disparity to separate itself from the rest.
Matt Brand presents with a mid-ranged and biting vocal style perfectly suited for the doom-metal genre. No, he might not posses the greatest power and range – at times his delivery borders on the monotone – but he never fails to align himself with the musical (and lyrical) happenings at hand. One creative reviewer described Brand’s vocals as “forlorn” and that they “come from beyond the veil of death”. I could not have said it better myself.
Brand also bestows the albums bone crushing riffs. Slow, trudging and relentless, Brand maintains a steady onslaught throughout, adding to the bristling feel of “Doomstone”, thick as they get “Ho Theos Erchestai” or instrumental variances of “Hors Des Sentiers Battus” and “In The Shade”.
Speaking of the instrumental, “Renovatio”, “An Angel Tale” and “Psych-Icon” all feature significant instrumental portions allowing Pylon to showcase its adept musicianship. Rounding things out, and contributing to the albums depth in the process, is the guest lead guitar work of Tom Fassler (“Ho Theos Erchestai), Sandro Keusen (“Renovatio”) and Oliver Schneider (“An Angel Tale”).
Jan Thomas anchors the low end with the steady bass lines while contributing an atmospheric touch with his work on flute. At this point it must be noted that Pylon employed no less than five drummers to complete the project, including founding members Tinu Christen, who provides the drums tracks on “In The Shade”.
The best way to describe the production would be fluidly transparent but allowing for a weighty low end and guitar sound.
Eleven minutes of quintessential epic doom, “Renovatio” sets a mournful tone with its amalgamation of tenacious guitar riffs and low key resonance- all the while Martin Roth highlights the low end with his technical presence on drums. The bristling span of lead guitar opening a four minute instrumental section gives way to flute and bass solos respectively. “Renovatio” deals with the ruination of the mind:
I paint my fears in hues of red
And when I love, I love myself
And should I die, you’ll sink down dead
Please help me now, I hurt myself
When you feel the warm flow, then
The pain is lessened once again
The nine minute “Doomstone” exhibits an angrier feel with its snarling guitar sound. Somber and steady (and heavy as they get), the song brings an aphotic mid-paced ambience in which Brand stands out with his gravelly vocal delivery. Impetus slows to a near crawl for another lengthy instrumental section in which a caustic guitar solo holds sway. “Doomstone” focuses on an individual reflecting upon his impending passing:
I’ve been waiting all my life to see the Light
Now I’m fading, I’ll be amongst the stars tonight
I’m the mirror of when time first begun
All shall be clearer, I’ll be staring right into the gloomy sun
Lay me low, set a tombstone on my head
Just let me go with a rock in time to shield my bed
“Ho Theos Erchestai” (Greek for God is coming) slows the pace even further (if you can imagine that). Plodding at a near crawl its full seven minutes, the song blends accenting keyboards – a keyboard solo gets things underway – with momentous explosions of rhythm guitar. Initiative briefly picks up for a stretch of blinding lead guitar. “Ho Theos Erchestai” is a feeble tribute to the grandeur of Milton’s Paradise Lost:
From the word of creation
The catastrophe is here
This the core of execration
I face the terror without fear
Ho theos erchestai is a feeble tribute
To the grandeur of Paradise Lost
Having taken over twenty-six minutes to get through its first three songs, the album moves on to the mostly instrumental “In The Shade”. The song breaks down into three parts. The first is instrumental and begins to a drum solo followed by a run of ominous riffing. Caustic narration placed in the backdrop of the mix covers the second while closing things out is another extended instrumental span.
“Beneath, Beyond” is the albums quietest and most laid back piece. Almost bordering on a “doom-ish ballad” (if such a thing even exists), the song slowly maneuvers its length to a quietly played guitar in putting in place an atmosphere of a tranquil variety. The flute makes a cameo appearance to lighten up a lush instrumental passage. “Beneath, Beyond” depicts a lost soul attempting to speak beyond the grave (sort of like Luke 16:19-31):
And it’s only by moonlight that I open my door
Id’ fain see my loved ones as I used to do before
But whence came that horror? – There’s no love in their eyes
What fear grasps them when I try to kiss them goodbye?
Beneath, beyond, in my chamber on my own
Beneath, beyond, I am lonely and alone
Beneath, beyond, am I meant to leave this all behind?
I cannot wander, my tears have left me blind
“Dream A Dream” returns things to driving metal territory. Ominous is the first word that comes to mind as an open air rhythm guitar gets things underway, the foreboding ambience upheld as the song crawls its remaining distance in unnerving fashion. The last minute and a half is instrumental as a bone chilling riff holds sway. “Dream A Dream” concerns itself with the short-sightedness of pleasure for pleasures sake:
Let’s dream a dream and when we smile
All was quite well worth the while
Shoo the tear that taints the day
And happy comes as happy may
I laugh and laugh for vanity
And quaff to bleak profanity
I play my role – and roll on while I’m here
Keyboards carry the extent of the two minute instrumental “De Rerum Sanctarum Una”.
“Psych-icon” picks up the pace- if only just slightly. With its catchy chorus, this proves one of the more memorable numbers here but still stays true to the doom with its pummeling riffs. Speaking of riffs, a chugging rhythm guitar fortifies the instrumental section carrying over two of the songs six and a half minutes.
Instrumental “Hors Des Sentiers Battus” stands out as six and a half minutes of choppy riffs backed by a trudging low end and occasional funky bass line. A quietly played guitar opens and closes the song while just past the halfway point whispered narration highlights the mix (in the same manner as “In The Shade”).
“Age Of Despair”, another short instrumental (1:50), is sustained by spacey keyboards.
“An Angel Tale” stands out with its huge cascading drum sound and anthem-like riffs. The song spends its first three minutes toiling through its muscular verse portions, not letting up in resolve as it finishes out the final three and a half instrumentally- and allowing Pylon to exhibit its deft musicianship in the process. “An Angel Tale” is aptly named:
They’re on the brink, those gods-to-be
They think they think, but they cannot see
That they’re losing out
We meet a wingless angel
Take him by the hand
We nail him to the temple door
Because he cannot stand
“DeadLove” represents as portent and powerful a track as you will find. A bass guitar solo interwoven with a flute gets the song underway, the haunting momentum sustained as a harsh – almost extreme sounding – voice steps forward after a minute. The rhythm guitar soon follows, smoothly leading the way until things break out in a crescendo of hard hitting riffs and august drums (with the flute and snarling vocals continuing to maintain their presence). A succinct instrumental section is joined by a clarinet. “DeadLove” shows how love transcends the grave (from the perspective of those left behind):
You to me are all
No end to you, no end to me
Our spring time lasts forever
In love, in love for years and years
Whom death’s spell doth not sever
You to me are more than life
Dead Love – love is dead and alive
Dead Love – love beyond the grave
“The Void Thereafter” closes the album in the form of crying and sobbing accented by keyboards. It must be noted that the piano-outro is based upon the riff to “DeadLove”.
If you are a doom-metal fan then you have found your magnum opus in Doom. Yes, it takes a bit of time to absorb the material here but, as previously stated, the time invested in the project will be richly rewarded. And as also already noted, Doom brings not just doom-metal but hints of the progressive, Goth-like and extreme- along with a lyrical direction of fate, ruin and divine sentence.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Renovatio” (10:47), “Doomstone” (9:19), “Ho Theos Erchestai” (7:09), “In The Shade” (6:28), “Beneath, Beyond” (5:49), “Dream A Dream” (6:13), “De Rerum Sanctarum Una” (2:17), “Psych-Icon” (6:43), “Hors Des Sentiers Battus” (6:31), “Age Of Despair” (1:51), “An Angel Tale” (6:57), “DeadLove”,“The Void Thereafter” (:56)
Matt Brand – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Jan Thomas – Bass, Guitars & Flute
Tom Fassler, Sandro Keusen, Oliver Schneider – Guitars
Tinu Christen, Lennard Pater, Marc Ricci, Martin Roth, Philipp Schiess – Drums
Also Reviewed: Pylon – The Eternal Wedding Band