|Musical Style: Doom/Traditional Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Roxx Records||Country Of Origin: Switzerland & Malta|
|Year Released: 2014||Artist Website: Pÿlon|
|Tracks: 7||Rating: 85%|
Switzerland’s Pÿlon is already one of the more engaging bands to have emerged from the doom metal scene, with its focus on astringent and slow paced riffing, profuse low-end heaviness and penchant towards the somber and swarthy side of thing. When further taking into account forlorn vocals, eerie keyboards and lyrics of a spiritual nature, the picture is complete. Aficionados of traditional and epic metal along the lines of Black Sabbath, Nomad Son, Saint Vitus, Trouble, Count Raven and Candlemass, as a result, have taken delight in the bands six-album back catalog, which began with its 2004 debut Natural Songbirth but also includes its latest on Roxx Records from the spring of 2014, Homo Homini Lupus.
What I have found to set Pÿlon apart is how it branches out from doom metal and emphasizes aspects of other metal and hard rock genres. The group, for instance, is not afraid to extend a song into the nine to ten minute range and cross into progressive territory as a result. Such lengthy material, as one might imagine, allows for extended instrumental excursions with an impromptu jam band (if not at times jazzy) feel. Pÿlon can also touch upon lower-key Gothic and courser extreme overtones while incorporating the occasional traditional metal influence. Hence, the best way to describe the group would be doom and a whole lot more.
Regardless of musical leaning, one trait consistent with Pÿlon is the amount of time required to digest its material. A certain amount of patience is necessary when factoring how many Pÿlon songs feature subtle melody structures, while the typical Pÿlon record can approach sixty minutes (or longer). However, it is time well spent in that one cannot help but appreciate the depth to the group’s songwriting. This applies best on Pÿlon’s third and fourth albums Doom and Armoury Of God from 2009 and 2011, respectively. Former (85% Angelic Warlord review) highlighted a weighty but atmospheric milieu with thickly woven production and latter (80% review) a catchier direction with the overall crisper and cleaner sound. Both come highly recommended as essential purchases for fans of the doom genre.
Homo Homini Lupus, a Latin phrase meaning “man is a wolf to (his fellow) man”, finds Pÿlon presenting with its share of changes. It begins with how long-term front man Matt Brand has given way to Jordan Cutajar, who has gained renown for his work in Malta based traditional doom act Nomad Son. In past reviews, I have described Brand as bringing a “biting and guttural mid-register (vocal) presence” characterized by a “disquiet delivery” (in a positive sense). Cutajar is not that far removed in terms of style (“raw and roughly hewn”), albeit he highlights an expanded range that trends towards the upper register side of things. Yes, both fit well within the Pÿlon doom framework, but also keep in mind the added variance that Cutajar brings allows the groups new material to reflect a greater element of accessibility.
Hence, many Homo Homini Lupus tracks have been condensed and come across more immediately recognizable- at least in comparison to what the group has done in the past (observation and not critique either way). Consider opener “Crowned”, with its three and a half-minute length (quite short for a Pÿlon piece!) and upbeat galloping riff emphasis that has more in common with traditional metal than doom. Likewise, “Saligia” (coming in at ‘just’ five minutes) delivers an unremitting momentum and engaging refrain that suggests of power metal. Even instrumental “ISDDM” (another shorter three and a half minute number) strains towards the up-tempo with its assailing guitar interplay and towering bass presence.
Pÿlon’s doom heritage, of course, cannot help but come into play. Best embodying this is “The Curse Of Eden”, swarthy and ominous with the trenchant riffs and caustic mentality to match, and “Crucifier”, every bit toiling and slogging in upheld by a disconsolate low-end. That new accessible Pÿlon sound reveals itself in the notable hooks the two bring to the table. Slayer cover “South Of Heaven”, in which Stryper bassist Tim Gaines guests, also has its darker moments in the form of a biting rhythm guitar sound and refrain that hits hard as it gets.
Twelve minute “Al Hahar” hearkens back to other Pÿlon epics “Renovatio” (off Doom) and “Returnal Etern” (from The Harrowing Of Hell). The song also stays true to the doom aesthetic, slow and trudging but also making use of understated melody, which keeps things musically fresh despite the length. Similar to other Pÿlon epics, an extensive stress is placed on instrumental moments (over half the songs length). Accordingly, the skillful guitar playing throughout makes me glad Matt Brand is still with the band in only having given up his vocal duties. In the end, as good a track you will hear from a doom band.
One recent Homo Homini Lupus reviewer suggested that Christian doom metal is an oxymoron, going to far as to state that “Christianity is (about) life, hope, grace, and mercy, why would you want pair it with something which means ruin, death or simple ill fortune?” Really? The various projects of Victor Griffin (Place Of Skulls & In-Graved) proves this unfounded as does David Benson, at the very least his recent Evil Killer release in which he recorded with Griffin. Also, note the aforementioned Nomad Son, whose main lyricist Albert Bell takes every opportunity to make his faith known.
Pÿlon plays no small role in this capacity. It starts with main songwriter Brand, who leaves little doubt as to his faith from the Armoury Of God liner notes in thanking “Jesus Christ, Eternal Light, my Power & Guide through this dark world”. Unfortunately, I am not able to distinguish all the Homo Homini Lupus lyrics (I wrote the review off pre-release promo music files), but subject matters to “Crucifer”, “Saligia” and “The Curse Of Eden” are self-explanatory. Note how latter ends to the repeated phrase “Lord, Prince of Peace”, while Psalm 103 is the subject matter to “Crowned”: “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name”.
Production comes across thick and weighty in placing rhythm guitars at the forefront of the mix. Low-end proves just as decisive.
I have closely followed Pÿlon since its 2006 sophomore release The Eternal Wedding Band and cannot but feel encouraged with how it has matured and evolved throughout the years. Specifically, on Homo Homini Lupus the group takes the next step musically from reinforcing a more accessible and readily identifiable sound while staying true to its doom metal roots in the process. A new vocalist in Jordan Cutajar and presence of some traditional metal flavorings play key roles accordingly. In the end, I see Homo Homini Lupus both appealing to long-term Pÿlon devotees while garnering the group a new basis of loyal fans.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Crowned” (3:20), “Al Harar” (11:43), “Saligia” (5:38), “ISDDM” (3:40), “Crucifer” (6:17), “The Curse Of Eden” (6:19), “South Of Heaven” (5:34)
Jordan Cutajar - Lead Vocals
Matt Brand - Guitars
Oliver Schneider - Guitars
Reto Hardmeier - Bass
Beni Mayer - Drums
Tim Gaines - Bass