Human Hecatomb

As is common for the musically addicted I was perusing Bandcamp’s metal feed for something new and fitting to play before driving off.  Scrolling along I made a stopping glance at the Pyre cover.  After swiping down the feed a few more times I felt compelled to go back to it.  Like any of us that feels they can accurately judge music by the cover my thought was, “This is either Swe-death or a generic blackened death album with mundane, perfect studio production that ruins so many metal records”.  I decided some uncomplicated and pounding death metal would suite me at the time so I hit play and engaged first gear.  In short time my interpretation of what I wanted to hear at the moment was confirmed, but also that Pyre‘s equal blending of the Stockholm and Gothenburg death sound is more note worthy than I expected.

Any reader knows that this style of death metal is INTENSELY well worn.  Tinkered with and sharply refined by 2018.  As sharp as one can make a 10th century war hammer, anyhow.  Like all well beaten genres it takes ever more miniscule unique flares and, in my theory, youthful vigor for a band to stick out from the bloody sea of nearly identical bands.  Not since Fatalist‘s The Bitter End have I heard such a flesh shredding record in the classic flavor of death metal.  Perhaps because I’m not a regular down that corridor of the death metal catacombs.  However, when I do check out such bands I seem to gravitate to the take on it that both Pyre and Fatalist offer: relentless metallic crust, bordering on Scandinavian hardcore, parts punctuated by unhinged metal with a capital ‘M’, guitar solo’s.  I recommend the second solo in opening rampage ‘Merciless Death’, and steel beam melting string manipulation at the end of ‘Last Nail In Your Coffin’.  Pyre plays like a rabid soccer hooligan on krokadil.  Even when they do simmer into a groove or mid-paced break I sense the anxiety that everybody is twitching to explode into speed picking and fervent drum battering.

The production on Human Hecatomb meets every check mark for what it is but it’s the small differences that prick up.  The guitar’s aren’t an HM-2 buzzsaw, but more of a mining drill.  They have a more robust midrange tone and fuller in presence.  If anything on this album could be compared to a buzzsaw it’s the melodic yet unhinged solo’s throughout.  They spool up at incredible rpm’s and then, like a d.i.y. home improvement gone Rescue 911 moment, the blade dismounts becoming a limb threatening, air-sheering projectile ricocheting off thrashing d-beats and fervent rhythm guitar picking. The drums I could see people thinking sound a bit odd but I like the dead thudding.  It articulates each hit of a fast fill and gives the record kind of an elastic, punchy center.  Commonly difficult to separate in metal mixes, surely the bass is in part responsible for the additional heft. Itself less a razor wire like ‘thong’ tone and more concussive rumble. The vocals are a lacerated and urgent strain for everyone to kiss the god damn dirt or end up sans arms and legs like the Knight of NI!

Pyre‘s Human Hecatomb is in fact a reissue…barely.  Originally released in 2014, like the recent countrymates Wombripper,  Redifining Darkness  Records sought fit to give the Russian brutes a second chance amidst, what was even more so just four years, a quicksand pit of Swe-death, and old school death metal records; reissues of the long lost, of the classics, new offerings of the reformed, and those of a new generation pumping fresh formaldehyde into an old corpse.  Pyre definitely accomplish that, to the extend that the chest seams are bulging and the corpse is seeming to be coming back to life. Redefining Darkness is probably right to reissue this.  Fans of this sub-style will consider it a find.  Call it what you will, ‘second wave’, or what I already have, but don’t label it ‘trend’.  The founding templates of death metal aren’t a comeback sound when you consider Bloodbath released Resurection Through Carnage in 2002, or Entrails stuffed their guts back in the ole’ stomach cavity in 2010.  ‘Old school’ death metal will always be around,  just keep an ear out for the young and dangerous that execute it proper.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mars Budziszewski
August 7th, 2018


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