- "I did what I did. You don't like it, you can kiss my ass."
Pyrrhon is an avant-garde Death Metal band from Brooklyn. They play a highly chaotic, technical, and dissonant form of death metal, comparable to Gorguts and Ulcerate but with an approach more influenced by grindcore and Math Rock. They are also notable for vocalist Doug Moore's highly poetic and misanthropic lyrics, which are mostly extremely cynical and incisive explorations of philosophy and social issues. The band has so far released four full-length albums and three EPs, all to increasing critical acclaim.
Current band members:
- Doug Moore - Vocals, lyrics
- Dylan DiLella - Guitar
- Erik Malave - Bass
- Steve Schwegler - Drums
Former band members:
- Mike Sheen - Bass
- Alex Cohen - Drums
- Fever Kingdoms (EP, 2009)
- An Excellent Servant But a Terrible Master (2011)
- The Mother of Virtues (2014)
- Growth Without End (EP, 2015)
- Running Out of Skin (EP, 2016)
- What Passes for Survival (2017)
- Abscess Time (2020)
Pyrrhon provides examples of:
- Added Alliterative Appeal: "Goat Mockery Ritual" mentions "bestial blasphemous nunrape nonsense".
- "The Happy Victim's Creed" has another example, with the line "Drug dream wracked reprobate creeps".
- After the End: "Empty Tenement Spirit" and "State of Nature" both take place after an apocalyptic climate collapse.
- Album Intro Track: "The Oracle of Nassau" is a subversion, in that while it's a very short track placed at the beginning of the album, it is by far one of the band's heaviest songs.
- Album Title Drop: On both of their last two full lengths.
"Fecundity is the mother of virtues"
- On The Mother of Virtues, on the Title Track.
"Who would mourn them, those pinioned fools
- On What Passes for Survival, in "Empty Tenement Spirit".
Now spared their sorry fate
To subsist on the bitter fruit
That passes for survival, in these vile final days?"
- Ascended Meme: Alex Cohen started the experimental grind project Chad Thundercock with Dylan DiLella and various other contributors after an encounter with a particularly unpleasant individualnote spawned an in-joke that gave him a spark of inspiration.
- Bedlam House: "Gamma Knife" is seemingly about a paranoid schizophrenic who is sent to one of these and lobotomized, and then emerges an Empty Shell.
- Big Brother Is Watching: "Flesh Isolation Chamber", which is about the pervasiveness of surveillance technology in the modern day.
- The Big Rotten Apple: The band are from New York, and their general disgust with the state of the city influences a lot of their lyrics. "New Parasite" is a good example.
- Boléro Effect: "Eternity in a Breath" builds from sparse, creepy guitar work in the beginning up to an utterly apocalyptic climax.
- Breather Episode: Subverted more often than not, as usually when they slow down from their usual sonic assault it only makes things exponentially creepier. Played somewhat straight on "Empty Tenement Spirit", which features a fairly melodic section in the middle that sounds almost like post-metal.
- Bright Is Not Good: The Mother of Virtues and What Passes for Survival both feature bright, garish colors on their album covers, but the images they depict are horrifying.
- Brooklyn Rage: They're from Brooklyn, and their music is very, very angry.
- Capitalism Is Bad: The main theme in their lyrics, especially on What Passes for Survival and Abscess Time, is the soul sucking nature of modern consumerist society, and the carnage, both physical and spiritual, it inflicts upon its subjects.
- On What Passes for Survival, most clearly expressed in "The Invisible Hand Holds a Whip", about corporate corruption, and "The Happy Victim's Creed", which is basically about an office drone.
- "Down at Liberty Ashes" focuses on the plight of blue collar workers whose minds and bodies are so wrecked by their workloads that they turn to drugs and alcohol to cope, inevitably meeting unpleasant, premature ends as a result.
- "Human Capital" is about the way workers are mentally programmed to only measure their self-worth by their productivity, and the self-abuse they push themselves to in order to satisfy this.
- "Rat King Lifecycle" is a metaphorical portrayal of the type of sociopathic social Darwinist that typically rises to the top of the capitalist food chain, and the miserable end that awaits them when the backlash of their sins catches up with them.
- Careful with That Axe: Doug Moore is very, very good at this.
- The Cassandra: "The Oracle of Nassau" is narrated by a homeless wretch who sees how corrupt and doomed our society has become, but is not listened to by anyone he tells.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Alluded to in "The Invisible Hand Holds a Whip", as well as "Goat Mockery Ritual", which says that "Real evil sounds like the kind of thing that might require a suit and tie".
- Cover Version: They covered "Crystal Mountain" by Death on Running Out of Skin.
- Crapsack World: Pyrrhon's general point of view in their lyrics, which is made all the more disturbing because it's pretty much all based on real life. Perhaps best encapsulated with these lines from "The Oracle of Nassau"."There are no crowds out on the streets
No neon lights, no beautiful people
Just vacant windows staring down
At the heaps of ash and charred rags
And the avenues yawn between
Ruins that spike like polygraphs
At the half remembered husks
In the cordwood-bundled clouds"
- Crazy Homeless People: The narrator of "The Oracle of Nassau" seems to be one of these. There's also "Statistic Singular", which tells a possibly true story of how the narrator saw a drunken, belligerent homeless man push a college student in front of an oncoming subway train.
- Deadpan Snarker: Doug Moore definitely seems to be one, judging by the lyrics of "Goat Mockery Ritual".
- Divided States of America/War Is Hell: "Balkanized".
- Eagleland: A strong, strong type 2 is portrayed throughout their discography. Moore even described "The Unraveling" suite on What Passes for Survival as being "a lament for the vision of America I read about in history and civics books as a kid."
- The End of the World as We Know It: A recurring theme, especially on their later material. "The Mother of Virtues" alludes to this happening as a result of overpopulation, while "Empty Tenement Spirit" is more an After the End scenario that seems to refer to rising sea levels and climate change.
- Epic Rocking: Some of their songs are pretty long. Examples include "Flesh Isolation Chamber" (8:24), "A Terrible Master" (8:04), "White Flag" (9:42), "Eternity in a Breath" (8:17), "The Mother of Virtues" (10:36), "Empty Tenement Spirit" (12:03), "The Lean Years" (7:24), "The Cost of Living" (8:41), and "Rat King Lifecycle" (8:19).
- Eyes Do Not Belong There: The cover of The Mother of Virtues shows a featureless, female humanoid figure covered in eyes and surrounded by a swarm of cockroaches.
- Fake-Out Fade-Out: "The Happy Victim's Creed" features one where it sounds like the song abruptly ends, before roaring back in for the final verse.
- Fading into the Next Song: Bordering on Siamese Twin Songs in many cases due to how fast the band moves. "The Invisible Hand Holds a Whip" and "Goat Mockery Ritual" form a nice example.
- Gaia's Lament: "State of Nature" is a bitterly sad song pitying the humans who will be born after climate change has destroyed most of the biosphere. Even by this band's standards, it's bleak.
- Genre Shift: Several of their songs could qualify as grindcore, and "Eternity in a Breath" is basically a detour into post-metal. "Tennessee" is pretty much a death/Doom Metal or even Sludge Metal song for the first half of its running time, possibly comparable to Gorguts' "Clouded"; however, it undergoes a Song Style Shift and becomes much faster in its second half. "The Cost of Living" is structured similarly.
- Genre Throwback: While they formed within the tail end of the original Willowtip era, they are musically a throwback to the early 2000s Willowtip/Robotic Empire/Hydra Head/Black Market Activities noisy tech/mathcore/proto-deathcore style, and have carved out a niche playing a style that is, at this point, decidedly retro.
- God Is Evil: "The Architect Confesses (Spittlestrand Hair)".
- Gratuitous Panning: Their albums are commonly mixed with two separate guitar tracks from Dylan Di Lella, one panned sharply into the left channel and the other into the right. It's not precisely gratuitous, though, since it'd be difficult bordering on impossible to distinguish them without the panning.
- Green Aesop: Not explicitly, but environmental destruction is one of the many human evils they write about. "Empty Tenement Spirit" is arguably a portrayal of a worst case scenario for climate change, while "The Mother of Virtues" rails against human reproduction as a driver of environmental decimation.
- Happiness in Slavery: "The Happy Victim's Creed" essentially treats modern life in the workforce as this.
- Honorary True Companion: Caroline Harrison, their longtime cover artist; the band has repeatedly stated that she is an unofficial member due to her uncanny knack for coming up with cover art that flawlessly evokes a given album's themes and general deep understanding of what the band is about.
- Horrible History Metal: "Turing's Revenge" is mostly about the forced chemical castration and subsequent suicide of Alan Turing for his homosexuality.
- Humans Are Bastards: Basically the main theme of the band.
- Indecipherable Lyrics: Even when you have the lyrics sheet in front of you, it can be borderline impossible to decipher what's being sung sometimes. Which is something of a shame, as they're very well-written lyrics.
- Ironic Name: The song "Motivational Speaker II", which is about self-hatred.
- Last Note Nightmare: It'd be easier to list the songs that don't use this, but "Eternity in a Breath" has to have one of the creepiest examples, ending with the sound of the vocalist just breathing heavily into the microphone.
- "Empty Tenement Spirit" suddenly cuts off, leaving us with what sounds like heavy chains being slammed against the floor again and again and somebody yelling in pain before the song, and the album, finally ends.
- Lead Drummer: Former drummer Alex Cohen is famous for his multitude of projects past and present, prolific session work, incredible technical ability, and, as of 2017, his online lesson videos. New drummer Steve Schwegler has also earned substantial renown for his performances on Pyrrhon's albums.
- Longest Song Goes Last: As of 2022, they do this on two of their four full-lengths and one of their EPs.
- Played straight:
- The Mother of Virtues closes with "The Mother of Virtues" (10:36).
- Growth Without End closes with "Turing's Revenge" (4:38), making it their only EP to play the trope straight.
- What Passes for Survival closes with "Empty Tenement Spirit" (12:03).
- Averted or inverted:
- Their 2009 demo is an inversion twice over, with the opening "Routinization of Charisma" (5:05) being the longest track and "Pascal's Wager" (4:22) being the shortest (by a whole second!).
- On Fever Kingdoms, the longest track is actually "God's Parabola" (5:44), in the middle of the EP.
- On An Excellent Servant but a Terrible Master, the penultimate "Flesh Isolation Chamber" (8:24) edges out the closing "A Terrible Master" (8:04) by a mere twenty seconds.
- Running Out of Skin is an inversion: the opening "Statistic Singular" (6:30) is the longest track.
- On Abscess Time, the closing "Rat King Lifecycle" (8:19) is only the second longest song; "The Cost of Living" (8:42) is longer.
- Played straight:
- Loss of Identity: "The Happy Victim's Creed" is about how capitalism does this to people by forcing them to sacrifice all their dreams and aspirations for the sake of a stable job.
- Loudness War: Averted. Since Colin Marston was involved in the mastering of most of their releases, the dynamic range of their songs are generally at DR8 or higher. In fact, they've never released a song with a range lower than DR7, and as of 2022, their most dynamic release, the EP Fever Kingdoms, scores DR13.
- Lyrical Cold Open: "The Oracle of Nassau" and "Implant Fever".
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Goat Mockery Ritual" is no less fearsome than the band's usual material, but the lyrics are a sarcastic attack on overly edgy bands in the metal community rather than the band's usual condemnations of mankind and modern society.
- Mad Oracle: "The Oracle of Nassau", written from the point of view of an unmedicated, mentally ill homeless person who truly believes in the profundity of his ramblings and is frustrated by what he sees as the rest of the world's inability to grasp his revelations.
- Madness Mantra: This line, repeated over and over at the end of "The Happy Victim's Creed"."Make me what I am
Make me the servant I was meant to be"
"Always keep growing and growing and changing
- And another in "Cancer Mantra".
Never stop spreading"
- "Balkanized" has "It's not personal" repeated several times.
- "New Parasite" has "This too shall pass" said after every line for the first half of the song.
- Metalcore: Has extremely prominent mathcore elements.
- Metal Scream: Doug Moore employs a mixture of traditional death growls and high pitched shrieks reminiscent of black metal. He also sometimes uses cleaner, shouted vocals more indebted to hardcore punk and noise rock, like on "Tennessee".
- Mind Screw: Their music is incredibly dense and cacophonous, and their lyrics tend to be very cryptic.
- Miniscule Rocking: Some of Pyrrhon's songs are short enough to approach Grindcore territory. None of the songs on Growth Without End are longer than 5 minutes, with "Forget Yourself" being under 90 seconds, and then there's "The Unraveling" suite on What Passes for Survival, whose three songs put together (which collectively run for some 5:12) aren't even as long as the next track, "Empty Tenement Spirit" (which admittedly is their longest song to date at 12:03). "The Oracle of Nassau" is only 1:26 in length, and their shortest song, "Ashes to Alveoli", is only 33 seconds.
- New Sound Album: Abscess Time downplays the death metal and mathcore elements and adds in significant elements of post-hardcore and noise rock.
- Noise Rock: They are influenced by acts like Helmet, Unsane, and Shellac, and they took a substantially more noise rock-oriented direction on Abscess Time.
- Nothing Is Scarier: The cover of Running Out of Skin is just a photo of a darkened subway tunnel.
- When the band slows down their tempo and cuts the distortion down, this is commonly the effect, especially since a Genre Savvy listener knows it's only a temporary letup in intensity. Examples include "Eternity in a Breath", "Tennessee", and "The Cost of Living".
- Nothing Personal: The line "It's not personal" is said repeatedly in "Balkanized".
- Once an Episode: So far, all of their full-lengths close with a long song about the apocalypse.
- Overpopulation Crisis: "The Mother of Virtues" is about this. The final lines of the song (quoted at the bottom of the page) seem to show it destroying the human race.
- Precision F-Strike: Occasionally used. "The Happy Victim's Creed" has a particularly good example."Drinksop spirit drowns the past
He just wanted to do his best
But trying only wore him thin
Fuck off, you didn't live through any of this"
"Why won't you fucking listen to me?
- "The Oracle of Nassau" provides another good one, though in the song itself it's borderline indecipherable.
I'm so close to finding the right words
Look past the sores and the slurring tongue
And take my reality into your heart"
- Protest Song: Many of their songs could be described as protest songs, albeit very cryptic and nihilistic ones.
- Purple Prose: Most of their lyrics, though they're much better written than most examples of this trope. They're almost like a secular Deathspell Omega.
- Sampling: Mostly of speeches and dialogue from movies.
- "Down at Liberty Ashes" samples Taxi Driver in its intro and outro.
- "Another Day in Paradise" samples Ned Beatty's famous speech from Network about how finance is God.
- "Trash Talk Landfill" samples Tom Lehrer from his live introduction to "We Will All Go Together When We Go" (found on An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer) saying, "Life is like a sewer: what you get out of it depends on what you put into it."
- Scavenger World: "State of Nature" is about the future generations of humans who will be forced to survive in one after climate change causes a global biosphere collapse.
- Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: "Rat King Lifecycle", along with Being Evil Sucks: when you're the same scumbag you were as a kid decades later, life catches up with you and the trash you surround yourself with will ensure that the weight of your terrible life choices and shitty actions will drag you to the bottom.
- Self-Backing Vocalist: Doug Moore sometimes layers his vocal tracks on top of each other, often to disorienting effect. "Cancer Mantra" is a good example of this.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Their lyrics, many of their song titles, arguably even their name (see Shout-Out below). Example song titles include "Teuchnikskreis" (a German pun coined by Andre Baier to refer to the paradoxical, self-perpetuating cycle of using technology to solve problems caused by technology; it is a portmanteau of Technikskreis, or "technology circle", and Teufelskreis, literally translating as "devil circle" and the rough equivalent of the English idioms "catch-22" or "vicious cycle") and "Solastagia" (a form of depression caused by environmental changes; coined by Australian philosopher Glenn Albrecht from the Latin sōlācium root of our solace, and the Greek -algia, or grief). This is one of several traits that places them in the company of bands like Deathspell Omega and Jute Gyte.
- Shout-Out: They are named for Pyrrhonism, the first known philosophical school of scepticism, which taught the pursuit of eudaimonia (εὐδαιμονία, a state of excellence and inner wellbeing brought about by exercising virtue, wisdom, and rationality) by achieving ataraxia (ἀταραξία, a state of equanimity) through epoché (ἐποχή, suspension of judgement). A Pyrrhon is, by extension, a follower of Pyrrhonism. In turn, Pyrrhonism is named for Pyrrho of Elis (Πύρρων ὁ Ἠλεῖος, ca. 360 BCE-ca. 270 BCE), who is credited as the first Greek sceptic philosopher and the founder of Pyrrhonism. However, as Pyrrho left no surviving writings, and even the writings of his pupil Timon of Philus (Τίμων ὁ Φλιάσιος, ca. 320 BCE - ca. 235 BCE) only survive in fragments, the contents of Pyrrho's own philosophy are to some extent a matter of hearsay and conjecture.
- Siamese Twin Songs: All the songs in "The Unraveling".
- Signature Style: Dissonant, mathy riffing, lots of unusual time signatures, abrupt changes in tempo, compositions that heavily rely on improv, occasional clean passages that sound borderline atonal, and manic vocals with surprisingly erudite lyrics.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: So far on the cynical end that you'll forget the idealistic side ever even existed.
- Sophisticated as Hell: Their lyrics are very erudite, but they don't shy from the occasional Precision F-Strike.
- Soprano and Gravel: Not exactly, but Moore uses the "gravel and gravel" by mixing the usual Type 2 Metal Scream of Death Metal with a Type 3 that would be more expected in Black Metal, which winds up having a similar (albeit harsher) effect. Occasionally, he also uses what might be best described as harsh singing, as in the first half of "Tennessee"; this makes Moore's shift to Type 3 screaming all the more frightening when it happens, even though most listeners probably know it's coming.
- Spoken Word in Music: Occasionally, mostly done using sampling. "White Flag" has a particularly creepy example, with the music slowing to a halt as Doug Moore whispers "This is the world... we made for ourselves."
- Start My Own: Doug Moore has several, namely Weeping Sores (his avant-garde death/doom project with Steve on drums) and Glorious Depravity (his OSDM project with members of Mutilation Rites and Woe). Subverted with Imperial Triumphant, as Alex and Erik were not founders, and Imperial Triumphant also predated Pyrrhon. Seputus is another aversion, as their own existence predates Pyrrhon in spite of their activity being fairly limited before Steve joined Pyrrhon.
- Stop and Go: Used at the end of "The Happy Victim's Creed".
- Subdued Section: "Empty Tenement Spirit" has a surprisingly melodic, somewhat post-metal sounding section in the middle, which serves as a genuine Breather Episode for the song.
- Surreal Horror: Musically, they're so disorienting that it usually takes you multiple listens just to decipher what the hell is going on, and lyrically they're like a less theological Deathspell Omega.
- Take That!: Several.
- "Goat Mockery Ritual" is one of these to extreme metal bands (in particular, black metal bands) who appropriate Satanic and Nazi-esque imagery purely for shock value without understanding what those symbols really mean or even living up to their own hype, as well as a more general one to certain aspects of the black metal fandom.
- "Another Day in Paradise" is an attack on the romanticizing of the Starving Artist and the "exposure bucks" mentality that allows people to justify the exploitation of creative professionals and condemn their protests as being jaded or only in it for the money.
- Taking You with Me: "Rat King Lifecycle", a song promising the painful deaths of the ruling class as a direct result of their own blind apathy to the societal and environmental carnage wrought by their lifestyles, has this sort of tone to it.
- Technical Death Metal: Of the weird, dissonant Gorguts variety, with a healthy dose of mathcore akin to the Willowtip, Robotic Empire, and Black Market Activities bands of the early 2000s.
- Textless Album Cover: All of them after The Mother of Virtues.
- Uncommon Time: Used quite often to add to the general impenetrability of their sound.
- Villain Song: "Cancer Mantra" is an unusual example in that it's basically an ode to a tumor.
- Wretched Hive: Urban decay is a recurring theme of theirs, heavily influenced by their living in Brooklyn. The lyrics listed under Crapsack World are an example of this perspective, as is "Statistic Singular".
- "O, rejoice!
For soon the world will burst with wombs
The sun will claw for the trees in vain
And an ocean of bones will creak below"