|Musical Style: Doom Metal||Produced By: Matt Brand|
|Record Label: Quam Libet||Country Of Origin: Switzerland|
|Year Released: 2011||Artist Website: Pylon|
|Tracks: 11||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 66:43|
Armoury Of God, the fourth full length album from Switzerland’s Pylon, is a perfect example of the - dare we say - pleasures that go hand in hand with listening to doom metal. Released in early 2011, Armory Of God is actually the third in a trilogy of albums that began in 2006 with The Eternal Wedding Band and also includes the aptly entitled Doom from 2009. Pylon got its start in 2004 with its debut Natural Songbirth.
In Armoury Of God you can expect over an hour of traditional and epic doom metal in the vein of Black Sabbath, Nomad Son, Saint Vitus, Trouble, Count Raven and Candlemass. Specifically, Pylon continues to embrace lengthy songwriting and a penchant for very heavy and slow placed riffing and low-end swarthiness. Mixed in you will find the occasional up-tempo moment along with touches of acoustic guitar, eerie keyboards, haunting vocals and spot-on duel guitar harmonies.
Lengthier pieces “The First Church” (8:04) and “Gravestar” (9:23) deliver a plodding mid-paced crunch. The same can be said for “In From The Funeral Fields” and “The Worm Within”, two as menacing a tracks as you will find, and the technically driven “In Serpent Tongues”. “Hunter Angels” and the albums third epic, “Hollow Sky” (8:45), in contrast, head in the catchier and more up-tempo direction. Rounding things out are three instrumentals, including one that is lengthy “Death Is All Around” (7:31) and two on the shorter side of things, “Cosmic Treasure” (3:00) and “I Lyki Stin Kardia Mou” (1:38).
Similar to Doom, Armoury Of God took a bit of time to digest in featuring 11 songs and over 65 minutes of music. Further patience is required when factoring in that its material features melody structures on the subtle side of things. Now, in no way am I implying that melody is not here; rather it took several listens for the album to grow on me but sink in it did. So my advice would be to approach Armoury Of God with a certain amount of patience and, also similar to Doom, in the end you will gain appreciation for the depth of its songwriting.
Matt Brand continues to bring a biting and guttural mid-register vocal style. No, he might not present with the greatest power and range, but he does not need to in that his disquiet delivery perfectly aligns with the musical happenings at hand.
Brand also fills in on rhythm guitar and contributes the steady onslaught of riffs - ranging from the trenchant to the relentless to the plodding - that imbue the project. He shares lead guitar duties with guest guitarists Vale Baumgartner and Andy Dormann. Baumgartner proves a particularly adept musician, nailing some spirited lead work on “The Worm Within” while cutting loose in intense fashion on “In Serpent Tongues”. Brand shines as well with his trademark cutting playing on “Hollow Sky”.
As with its past efforts, Pylon continues to emphasize its instrumental sound, as it does on lengthier tracks such as “The First Church” and “Gravestar”. Instrumental “Death Is All Around” stands out as well, in which Jan Thomas showcases his precise abilities on bass guitar.
Production brings just enough polish without sacrificing the bands natural raw energy in the process.
Perhaps it is a result of the albums title, but some reviewers have mistakenly labeled Pylon a Christian band when in fact it has only one Christian member, Matt Brand (who openly thanks “Jesus Christ, Eternal Light, my Power & Guide through this dark world” in the liner notes). Lyrics, otherwise, are positive and reflect a spiritual emphasis in dealing with topics ranging from death and our personal ending (“In From The Funeral Fields”) to Wormwood falling (“Hollow Sky”) to spiritual warfare (“Hunter Angels”).
Track By Track
“The First Church” brings eight minutes of epic doom. The song trudges through its first two minutes instrumentally prior to descending into the low-key depths of its verses that follow. After impetus picks up for another instrumental stretch, one final mournful sigh of a verse is obtained. No, this might not be the catchiest piece but it is powerful all the same.
“The Worm Within” proves an empty, abyss of a song, slowly plodding through its swarthy verses to some downcast riffs and a hulking bass line. Momentum picks up at a moments notice, however, for a surprisingly up-tempo chorus backed by double bass. Spirited lead guitar carries the songs instrumental moments. Lyric snippet:
Can you hear my cries?
Ca you see me from your glorious skies?
The worm eats at me and will not die
And from within my last hope longs to fly
I’m sighing, wanhope applauds
I’m crying, despondency denies the triad of God
The calm opening seconds to “In From the Funeral Fields” give way to a downtrodden rhythm guitar. The song proceeds to drift ahead in mournful fashion, bone weary and bereft but giving rise to a notable melody in the process. All the while chilling keyboards prevail over the backdrop. Lyric snippet:
The sun wakes red on the horizon
Mirrored in a sea of blood
Beyond the hill, bells ring out horrors
As I wade through th’ accursed flood
Engulfed within the price of war
As I drown in the prize of war
Can God still heed each dying roar?
Two epic doom pieces follow, “Gravestar” and “Hollow Sky”, which combine for nearly twenty minutes of music.
“Gravestar” brings over nine minutes of toiling riffs and an incessantly churning low-end. A dogged environs prevails, as an understated persuasiveness melds with a thick as all get out mentality. Breaking things up is a lengthy instrumental stretch at the halfway point. This one hearkens back to “Renovatio” and “Doomstone” from Doom. Lyric snippet:
Though once they die, though here they lie and under stones repose
But one alone dares turn each stone to wake up those who doze
He smiles to start their chilling hearts as they were era they froze
He instills new heat to make hearts beat and throb as before they froze
“Hollow Sky” emphasizes the more forthright tempo. Verses, of course, are as downcast as one would expect from the genre, but things break out in catchy fashion as a brief but taciturn chorus is achieved. An almost anthem-like feel can be found in what amounts to the albums finest track. Lyric snippet:
I’ve heard the tales of sanctity
The lies of boundless love
As Wormwood sinks into the sea
Dire woe comes from above
It dissipates upon the earth
Instilled into each brittle birth
Oh yeah, oh yeah, the bitter truth
Hollow sky, welkin wide, hallowed high, hollow sky
A nice interlude can be found in instrumentals “Cosmic Treasure” and “I Lyki Stin Kardia Mou”, with the former heading in ambient keyboard based territory and latter reflecting a more up-beat and guitar driven touch.
The album hits its stride over its final half.
“Hunter Angels” brings an up-tempo proclivity that hints of Place Of Skulls. The song might begin sluggishly but soon breaks out in lively fashion for its verses, sustaining the initiative for a catchy chorus interwoven with distant but harsh backing vocals. Instrumentally, things take on a calmer and gentler (almost jazzy) role. Great song. Lyric snippet:
The sinners pray: “Another final day to look into the sky”
The hurricanes will wake and spin again to waft their wrongs awry
Hunter Angels in the end they find them all
Heaven’s raiders, they decide what breed will fall
“In Serpent Tongues” is hard edged and biting. Carried front to back by onslaughts of driving riffs, the song mixes in occasionally eerie keyboards with a lengthy stretch of intense lead guitar work. No, not the catchiest but still holds up under the weight of its technical emphasis. Interestingly, the song starts to narration that almost sounds as if taken from John Milton’s Paradise Lost (it’s difficult to understand so I cannot say for certain).
“Somewhere In Nowhere”, a Candlemass cover (from Tales Of Creation), proves fittingly dark, somber and aphotic. When the dreary atmosphere does let up, it is for a melodically driven chorus lightened by airy keyboards. One cannot help but appreciate the resulting dissimilation.
Closing things out is seven and a half minute instrumental “Death Is All Around”. Yes, this one might be a bit long winded as far as instrumentals go, but it is not without its moments. A slogging rhythm guitar carries the song its first couple of minutes prior to a hulking bass line meshed with guitar feedback takes over. The final minutes feature some of the albums best fast paced soloing.
If you are a fan of traditional doom metal then by all means check out Armoury Of God. Pylon, of course, is not breaking any new ground here, but I enjoy the emphasis on lengthy songwriting and generous instrumental portions while mixing in spiritually themed lyrics. It all adds up to another solid doom metal album from Pylon.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “The First Church” (8:04), “The Worm Within” (5:27), “In From The Funeral Fields” (6:16), “Gravestar” (9:23), “Hollow Sky” (8:45), “Cosmic Treasure” (3:00), “I Lyki Stin Kardia Mou” (1:38), “Hunter Angels” (5:47), “In Serpent Tongues” (6:17), “Somewhere In Nowhere” (4:30), “Death Is All Around” (7:31)
Matt Brand - Lead Vocals & Guitars
Jan Thomas - Bass & Acoustic Guitars
Andrea J.C. Tinner – Drums
Vale Baumgarnter – Guitars
Andy Dormann - Guitars