PICK OF THE WEEK: Pyramids back with dream-state noise, stormy sounds on ‘A Northern Meadow’

PyramidsMetal and heavy rock can come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and sounds. It would be dull if it all followed the exact same path, and this world would be nearly as exciting as it is if everyone constantly went for the jugular, with no attention paid to variety. Part of what makes metal and extreme music so rewarding is because it is so expansive.

That’s why the presence of a band such as Pyramids is so interesting to dissect. Not exactly metal, not really rock, this band has made some of the most imaginative, complex sounds of the past few years. They’re not a slave to any sound, and they likely could find favor among those who like black metal and doom, as well as folks who are just as inclined to pay homage to the Cure, Radiohead, and My Bloody Valentine. You can’t pinpoint their sound or trap it in a corner, because it will grow, climb up the walls, morph into an entirely new creature, and come back at you completely transformed. Now, seven long years since their last and self-titled full-length record enveloped the world, they return with their gushing, sky-borne, spacey new album “A Northern Meadow” that’s long overdue and very much welcome. As expected, it pushed matters even further than ever before and can totally infect you just minutes into its run time. It’s not a platter of bloody brutality by any means, but it’s dark, morose in corners, sometimes threatening and chilling, and always arresting. It’s a fantastic piece of work.

Pyramids coverPyramids’ shadowy lineup is comprised of R. Loren, M. Dean, M. Craig, and D. Willaim, and on this record, they are joined by notable guests such as Vindsval of Blut Aus Nord; Colin Marston of Krallice, Gorguts, Dysrhythmia, and more; and musician/composer William Fowler Collins, who has released music on labels including SIGE, Utech, Handmade Birds, and plenty of others. It may have been a long time since we got that last record, but it’s been worth the wait. And they haven’t been totally absent or anything, as they released a remix album, as well as a collaborative music with Nadja and split efforts with Mamiffer and Horseback. But “A Northern Meadow” takes things ever further. It’s a daydreamy, otherworldly album that gets more and more involved with each listen, and I’ve more than once let my promo version of the album restart over and over again, with me totally losing track of where I am.

“In Perfect Stillness, I’ve Only Found Sorrow” gives you a deep drink of reality right from the start, as guitars sweep in, the falsetto-rich vocals grab onto you and hold on tightly, with the entire thing having a foggy dream effect that could leave you feeling intoxicated. There are weird electronic smears on the back end, and a mesmerizing fog that leads you out and toward “The Earth Melts Into Red Gashes Like the Mouth of Whales” that has bent, slurry melodies and dark riffs that emerge from the corners. A noise sheen washes over everything, with various sounds merging, creating their own unique color combinations, and splitting apart again, while the track’s body begins to soar and encircle the atmosphere. “The Substance of Grief Is Not Imaginary” has strange alien vocals effects that sound delivered in a spacious underground tunnel, while the guitars get grittier and the vocals sweep in like a mist looking to inebriate you. The song has a morbid, sinister feel as it reaches its conclusion, leaving the sense of threat and isolation to keep hold of everything. “Indigo Birds” follows, as it opens into a deep guitar gaze, with the line, “We slice the sun,” floating on top of the murk. There is great wooshing and beds of synth that spill texture all over the scene, as the whirry vocals and numb sentiments take over every cell of your body.

“I Have Four Sons, All Named for Men We Lost to War” is one of the heaviest, grimiest selections on the record, and it’s here where Vindsval and his bizarre sense of melody and composition have their greatest effect. A doomy, churning riff rips into the mix, and some elements give off the same dark essence as the last few Blut Aus Nord albums. It’s like two forces smashing together and creating a cataclysmic effect, making it one of the record’s most engaging tracks. “I Am So Sorry, Goodbye” has a mournful, dissonant start, with sounds echoing out and hanging in the air, and strange, warped passages that could leave your head cloudy. The song keeps building odd layers on top of itself, with melody and fuzz joining together at the end and closing this chapter. “My Father, Tall as Goliath” has reverberating vocals that bounce off the walls, with the guitars churning and going dark again and the words pleading, “Swallow us away.” The robotic vocals returns again to give the message a mechanical feel, and the elements gurgle underneath the surface and finally submit. Closer “Consilience” has the shortest title but it’s the longest passage at 9:23. Black guitar lines slither from the cracks in the walls, with the vocals soaring and your blood bubbling from the heat. The track also has a sleep-inducing quality, lulling you into calm as sounds float, keys create a bed of serenity, and the record disappears into the sky.

Pyramids are a fantastic, futuristic band that always find a way to do things in their own way, but they always remember to inject bits of their hearts and souls into the music. These eight songs are emotionally involved, wonderfully heart-affecting, and always soar high into the atmosphere, where you can follow the band into other worlds. It might not be the heaviest record from a sound standpoint, but it carries so much substance and imaginative weight, it could crush worlds.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pyramidstx

To buy the album, go here: https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/products-page/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.profoundlorerecords.com/

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