Experimental rock band Pyramids
formed in 2008 from Denton, Texas
, and released their debut self-titled full-length album within the same year. For the next several years, the group would collaborate in a number of split records with other bands, such as Nadja
. In 2015, however, after signing to Profound Lore (Agalloch
), another full-length release has hit the shelves, the band's sophomore effort called "A Northern Meadow."
Before listening to this album, I found this band through their split release with drone project Horseback
called "A Throne Without a King
" back in 2011. Their song "Phaedra's Love" had a very intriguing experimental feel to it, sort of combining different genres of music into a single, haunting track. This formula can't be easy to pull off, but judging from that track, Pyramids
did so remarkably well. Now that their latest full-length "A Northern Meadow" has been added to their collection, I was interested in whether or not the band could work the same magic as before with their progressive sound. Fortunately, although the album isn't spectacular, it still has plenty going for it.
Firstly, the instrumentation is really well-orchestrated and actually quite genre-diverse; it's one of the major highlights that the music has to offer. To start off, the clean singing is pretty chill-inducing in their quiet, high-note falsetto that play a large role in the creation a sort of a ghostly environment for the listeners to be immersed in; the way they contrast with the rest of the somewhat heavy music makes way for some potent chemistry. The guitars definitely have a lot of black metal influence behind them, as die-hard fans of the genre should immediately be able to identify with the sinister riffs that they dish out. Not only do they sound very good, but they also provide a lot of the aggression that balances out with the atmosphere. The drums are obviously programmed in their digital, compressed sound that actually provides the album with a nice industrial edge. Instrumentation-wise, "A Northern Meadow" definitely succeeds.
This album was mixed by Colin Marston (Gorguts
) and mastered by James Plotkin (Horseback
), and they worked their magic quite well here as they did with other records. The sound production balances the heaviness and ambiance of the music quite nicely, and the way it sounds somewhat compressed and raw makes the songs all the more engaging and atmospherically bold. Perhaps on occasion, the mixing does sound a little too flat, but overall, the production and mixing is well-rounded and adds a lot to the music's power and subtlety.
This album also does a great job of blending different genres together while creating its own identity as a concise experimental piece. Drone
, atmospheric, post-rock, black metal, sludge, and perhaps a few others are all seamlessly fused together, and, along with the musicianship, this mixture is one of the biggest strengths that this release has to offer. This seems to be because of the instrumentation, with each element covering a different type of sound or sub-genre. The guitars, as previously mentioned, can be associated with black metal and post-rock with their dark, sonic riffs, the subtle vocals are definitely ambient, and the programmed drums and synthesizer are both reminiscent of atmospheric and industrial music. They make for a sound that is very intriguingly diverse without it compromising its identity.
This sense of variety shows throughout the album in terms of just the song-writing alone as well. For instance, the song "I Have Four Sons, All Named for Men We Lost
" has a much heavier, sludge-like ring to it compared to the rest of the track-list, with the guitars really taking the spotlight in terms of their murky sound. The tracks "The Substance of Grief
is Not Imaginary" and "My Father, Tall as Goliath
" feature these scratchy, robotic vocals that already sound eerie by themselves, but then add to the industrial-like atmosphere that really sticks to the listener even after the songs come to a close. These examples keep the record consistent while quite often bringing something new and intriguing to the table.
Though the album does have a number of high points, however, there is one particular issue that does hold it back rather significantly: a few songs have a habit of blending into each other too much in terms of both structure and sound. For an example, as good as "In Perfect Stillness, I've Only Found Sorrow
" and "The Earth
Melts into Red
Gashes Like the Mouths of Whales" are individually, the double-pedal rhythm both tracks share make them too similar to one another, thus taking away some of the momentum and dynamic that this record could have had. Unfortunately, there are a few other instances like this, and it does hurt the listening experience despite the album's clear attempts to add something different with each track as earlier stated.
"A Northern Meadow" is quite the intriguing delve into experimental music, with its fascinating combination of genres such as ambient, post-rock, drone, black metal, and even a hint of industrial. There is also a lot of great instrumentation demonstrated throughout, as well as plenty of deep, haunting atmosphere to enjoy being drawn into. The album, however, does also suffer from some monotony from time to time, whether it be from the occasional lack of dynamic or the songs matching one another a little too closely. Still, this is a solid and pleasantly surreal listen that any fan of experimental and abstract music will likely be satisfied by. While it isn't the greatest and is certainly not for everyone for its unorthodox nature, it's a solid effort that definitely deserves credit for being its own type of bizarre creature.
Originally posted on: http://metaljerky.blogspot.com/