|Musical Style: Doom Metal||Produced By: Oliver Schneider|
|Record Label: Roxx Records||Country Of Origin: Switzerland|
|Year Released: 2016||Artist Website: Pÿlon|
|Tracks: 8||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 48:37|
Switzerland’s Pÿlon answers multiple doom metal questions. In need of heavy set and slow paced riffing? The group gives prominence to the toiling but relentless guitars inherent to the genre, with founding member and guitarist Matt Brand setting the deliberate if not caustic tone in this regard. Have a penchant for profuse low-end heaviness? Then look no further than Pÿlon with its emphasis on a browbeating drum sound and bass of a thickly labored capacity. Lean towards the musical somber and swarthy side of things? Pÿlon also fulfills this role in meeting the forlorn and portentous expectations unique to the style at hand.
Pÿlon might have gotten its start in 2004 with its full length debut Natural Songbirth but is better known for the ‘suite’ of albums it released in follow up based around a common theme of ‘death, our personal ending, that everything is gone one day’: The Eternal Wedding Band (2006), Doom (2009) and Armoury Of God (2011). My favorite is aptly entitled Doom (85% Angelic Warlord review) with its emphasis on both musical variety - not just doom metal but also aspects of the progressive, Gothic and extreme - and the group’s prolific instrumental sound. Armoury Of God (80% review) stands out as well in taking the heavier and more up-tempo direction while retaining the Pÿlon focus on lengthy compositions and instrumental proclivity.
I rank 2013 release The Harrowing Of Hell (75% review) a notch below its predecessors from lacking the same distinct personality and songwriting cohesiveness while also taking a step back in terms of production. Homo Homini Lupus, a Latin phrase meaning “man is a wolf to (his fellow) man”, followed in 2015 and found Pÿlon recapturing its form (85% review) with the more immediately recognizable and accessible sound. This reflects in not just reduced individual track times but also from how long term front man Matt Brand was supplanted by Jordan Cutajar (Nomad Son), who brings the more expanded and upper register range in comparison (observation and in no way a critique).
On A Lament, the Pÿlon Roxx Records seventh full-length album from the summer of 2016, Brand reassumes lead vocal duties with his distinct (as described in past reviews) “biting and guttural mid-register vocal presence” characterized by a “disquiet delivery” (in a positive sense either way). In subtly hinting of Ozzy, I find him correspondingly to prove the perfect fit for all things doom. One creative reviewer that went so far as to suggest that Brand’s vocals ‘comes from beyond the veil of death’ had the right idea!
Brand stresses said ‘biting’ and ‘disquiet’ facets on opener “Cosmik Lizard”, a portent mauler that starts to eerie keyboards prior to flogging through its acerbic verses only to lighten (even if a touch) for an all-encompassing chorus in which buffeting double bass makes a decisive statement. The Pÿlon instrumental bent rears its head over the final minute as Oliver Schneider unleashes a run of fiery lead guitar.
“Desolation is Divine” takes the more upbeat heading- at least as far as the doom genre is concerned! The song proves technical in form, interspersing ominous harmonies throughout in transitioning between bounding verses and a chugging freight train momentum refrain. Impetus picks up decisively for an instrumental passage carried by guest guitarist Damir Eskic’s insolent soloing.
“The Day After The War” proves every bit no-nonsense. Caustic bass sets the unwavering low-end tone, lending a slight emotional allure in aligning with the front to backing biting guitar riffs and intricate drum underpinnings throughout. Ian Arkley (My Silent Wake) lets loose with several stretches of blistering lead guitar.
“Pantodynamos” starts stilly to guitars on the calmer side only to pick up at once, palpating during its forlorn verses as a foundation of low-end groove establishes itself. Catchy refrain, in contrast, picks up and softens at the same time in allowing for some of those previously noted Pÿlon to take an assertive role
Four songs into the album and it becomes apparent that with Brand back at the vocal helm, Pÿlon has returned to the heavier traditional doom metal roots of its earlier material and the instrumental inclining and lengthier track times that go hand in hand (noting how each of the four are in the five to six minute range).
Speaking of which, it is not uncommon for a Pÿlon album to feature an epic to approach nine to ten minutes, and A Lament proves no exception with “Lazarus”, a progressive doom based take The Rich Man & Lazarus (from Luke 16:19-31). The song ploddingly grinds from its mournful beginning, dogged with its incisive guitar onslaughts and intimidating bearing but also not lacking melody, as reflected in the heightened texture to its august refrain. Helping take the song out past nine minutes, is the elongated instrumental section in which Brand and Schneider trade off on bluesy lead guitar.
“Fair Haven Of Thesterness” starts to a rumbling bass solo that helps set a desolate of not Gothic tinged tone. Of note is the use of eerie choir vocals, which lend to a despondent scene that gradually maneuvers as cutting guitar riffs underline Brand’s disconsolate vocal qualities (in a flattering sense). Similar to several cuts here, “Fair Haven of Thesterness” picks up at once to its lively instrumental interlude.
Opening to several seconds of clashing symbols, “The Lone Rider” is heavy as all get out moving forward from how it marries battering guitar riffs with more of the group’s perilous vocal melodies. A slight rawness comes to the forefront in the process, powerful with intricate drum rolls and fills of Beni Mayer but every bit compelling from the foreboding instrumental moments.
Albums short (two minute) instrumental title track ominously flows to choir vocals and slogging guitars.
Packaging and production are strengths. It starts with cover art, which depicts in black and white ‘the ladder of divine ascent’ from the monastery of St. Catherine, Sinai, 12th century. A four panel digi-pak comes with a multi page mini-booklet with lyrics on the inside and Ephesians 1:17 inscribed on the outside. Pÿlon might not be a Christian band but lyrics to several A Lament tracks reflect the faith of Matt Brand, who in the liner notes thanks ‘Jesus Christ, my shepherd, guide and light in this dark world’.
Production is up to the Pÿlon standard with a full on guitar sound that helps make A Lament potentially the groups heaviest offering to date. Raw but also imbued with just the right amount of polish, the album leaves little doubt as to how it places the metal’ in doom metal in no uncertain terms!
Similar to past Pÿlon albums, A Lament took some time to grow on me in that the group does not naturally lend to its material - and take this as an observation and not critique - a great deal of immediately accessible elements. Initial impression as a result is that the individual A Lament tracks do not separate themselves as they should, but repeat listen reveals this a misnomer in that true depth to the Pÿlon compositional skills reside in subtle but recognizable melody structures. Further keep in mind that Pÿlon is not reinventing the wheel in that the doom genre does not necessarily allow for a great deal of accessibility to begin with- or automatically become recipient to any type of radio friendly flavor of the month awards. All things added up, A Lament sets itself apart as a prototypical example of success within the doom category.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Cosmik Lizard” (5:35), “Desolation Is Divine” (6:30), “The Day After The War” (5:19), “Pantodynamos” (6:19), “Lazarus” (9:34), “Fair Haven Of Thesterness” (6:08), “The Lone Rider” (6:46), “A Lament” (2:07)
Matt Brand - Lead Vocals & Guitars
Oliver Schneider - Guitars
Reto Hardmeier - Bass
Ian Arkley - Guitars
Damir Eskic - Guitars
Jam Thomas - Keyboards
Beni Mayer - Drums
Andrea Tinner - Drums