Pyres – Year of Sleep

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By Gruesome Greg

I don’t deny that I’m not as plugged-in to the local scene as I used to be, so if it takes the label sending me a promo to get on board with Toronto sludge squad Pyres, so be it. I can tell you before even hearing a note that I already like the album title. (Of course, I’ve seen Sleep live in ’10 and ’11, so I’m not sure what year they’re referring to…)

The six-song, 40-minute album opens with “Proximity,” which starts with a steady chug and a decent drum beat before a big breakdown takes this closer to stoner/doom territory. Perhaps not Sleep, per se, but I can hear some Zoroaster in here, so I dig it. “Deserter” picks up the pace a bit with an interesting opening riff that actually reminds me of The Sword. But these hardcore screams never emerged from the mouth of JD Cronise, to put it mildly!

The title track spans nine-and-a-half minutes of melodic post-sludge, starting off slow and mellow with a definite Neurosis vibe. Even when the vocals indicate an increase in aggressiveness, it maintains that NeurIsis feel, contrasting the vicious barks with some Aquarian instrumentation that particularly recalls the latter. Not that there are too many words to this one, mind you.

“Atlas Cast No Shadow” is sorta like a head-on collision between the two prior numbers, injecting melodic, stoner-style riffing with a bit more of a drawn-out, underwater feel, while also slowing things down for some downright doomy passages. “The Anchorite” also packs a mighty post-sludge punch, while leaving me scrambling for a dictionary to look up what anchorite is. (“A person who has retired into seclusion for religious reasons,” in case you were wondering.)

“Everbearing” ends things with another epic, an eight-minute number that bookends opening track “Proximity” quite nicely with its slightly-upbeat sludgy stomp. But this one slows to a crawl a third of the way through, some decadent doom downstrokes descending beneath a super slo-mo solo, before it all fades away into a sea awash with Isis. Then bam, outta nowhere, we’re hit with a brief blast of death metal intensity before it’s back to the rough seas and jagged rocks. Ahoy, matey!

(Granite House Records)

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Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.