System of the Animal 25

NYDM brutal death metal veterans Pyrexia return with their seventh full-length album, however, it is a retread as the band felt it necessary to re-record their second full-length album, System of the Animal, which came out 26 years ago.  So should this not read System of the Animal (26)? When Pyrexia moved on from brutal guttural throat Darryl Wagner and brought in Keith DeVito in 1994 the death metal community was torn, especially in the Tri-State region.  I was already in Internal Bleeding and I enjoyed Keith’s more mid-high range death metally/hardcore style.

The Hatredangeranddisgust 1995 ep impressed me because Keith has an aggressive syncopated vocal style that quite honestly is hard AF to replicate.  He sang on the 2014 Internal Bleeding Imperium album, which I guested on and four years later I was learning some of the songs when I came back to front IB again for touring.  His patterns were a muthafucker to learn, but they made me a better vocalist and I told him that.  I have much respect for Keith.  1997 continued with shifts in the death metal scene and we dropped our second album, The Extinction of Benevolence  and Pyrexia also dropped their second album System of the Animal.  Both albums were aggressive and did not pander to the masses.  SOTA has remained one of my top death metal albums of all time with the heavy beatdown grooves, lyrical content, and Keith’s vocals are pissed off and his style is untouchable on this album.

Many of you good readers, who have followed my review style over the years, know certain proclivities I have, such as my disliking instrumentals on albums.  Up there is re-recording original albums.  Exodus has done this, Rings of Saturn and many others.  Suffocation has re-recorded almost all of the songs off Breeding the Spawn, as songs on their albums afterward.  For that album I actually love the way the songs were played, it was just the production and mix were subpar.  That album with a remix and remaster would have taken care of that.  Let’s say if my alma mata were to re-record Voracious Contempt or The Extinction of Benevolence, I would be quite unhappy.  But like with Pyrexia, where I am not in the band, it’s not my decision.  Bands will tend to do this sort of thing as a way of reintroducing their material to new fans as well as recording the songs with the current line-up with certain nuances changed due to how the band currently performs some of the older songs live.  Regardless, Pyrexia entered into no no territory, for me, with re-recording an album I have loved for 26 years…..but this re-recording is actually good.  Does it top the original? – Hell to the NO, but it is good.

I am glad the band did not mess with the Louis Farrakhan excerpts in “Confrontation” and “G.F.Y.S.”  So the re-recording is done by the now four-piece, headed by guitarist Chris Basile, Shaun Kennedy, bass, Jim Beach, vox, and John Glassbrenner, on drums-yo John when are we getting another Armor Column album?  Once album opener “Confrontation” opens several noticeable differences hit you in the face.  The super clean production, is it heavier than the original?  It’s not, but it is crisper, the music hits hard on this song.  The other and most noticeable difference on this album is Jim’s guttural style.  I love Jim’s vocals and this changes the sound across the album dramatically to the point that it makes it an overall more brutal-sounding album.  A top 5 Pyrexia song for me is “Downsized” which has always been my favorite on this album.  The way the growled spoken word part begins and the drum patterns and then when Downsized is growled and it goes into that bludgeoning beat down I always punch holes in walls and take out the drywall and then punch concrete with it, cause it causes a lot of energy within me.  This part hits super hard on the re-recording and the intermittent blasts are tighter and a bit faster than the original.

“G.F.Y.S.” (Go Fuck Your Self) was always the perfect album closer.  Some of the opening guitar and drum patterns are delivered a little tighter and different than the original, actually sounds pretty damn killer.  Across this album, I love Jim’s vocals and his delivery, but I am not going to lie, parts of this song when the song title is spoken it hit way harder when Keith delivered it because he had that piss n vinegar approach and he enunciated the delivery in a way I thought he was coming through the speaker and berating me.  When parts like this are delivered in a brutal guttural way, some of the lyrical content and anger gets missed in that approach.

Pyrexia has released this on their own label they created for this release and the cd I purchased is one of them slim-shady digi’s.  The original artwork is blown up more on this, the cd booklet also contains lyrics.  The band released some incredible merch and I picked up the long and short-sleeve designs.  The shirt quality and thick ink print is outstanding.   With this re-recording more brutal does not necessarily equate to better and while I definitively prefer the original recording, this re-recording is enjoyable to listen to.  It adds a different listening experience and impressed me more than it should have.  Cool approach and please support Pyrexia.  I have known Chris Basile for 30 years and I still consider him a dear friend!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
June 27th, 2023


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