Oct 2, 2012
Pylon - "The Harrowing Of Hell" ...
The band are still steadfast in their Christian metal direction but just like their other releases, you will never give it much thought unless you dig into the lyrics. Starting with 'Gethsemani' and 'Psalm 139 Part A' it is obvious that the band did set out to write concise, easily listenable doom pieces and these two tracks are among the most infectious tunes the band has ever recorded. Melodic keys, catchy traditional doom riffing and a style that I want to call "power-doom" but I hope this doesn't catch on, the last thing we need is another sub-genre. The power and passion behind the performance is unquestionably here in all its glory but sadly, the production is not. Something about this album sounds awfully flat and it really starts to show during the third track 'The Stream Of Forgetfulness.' These songs lack a bit of spark anyway so one thing they need is strong production but the sound here seems a bit lifeless with the vocals being the most affected by this less than dynamic sound.
'The Stream Of Forgetfulness' however is still a very solid Pylon track in the classic Candlemass mold. You know what you are getting with this band so don't expect any dramatic surprises because you wont find any and that maybe is the albums greatest downfall. The way these songs are structured are overwhelmingly obvious to the point where I found myself wondering if some of these songs are even originals.....maybe they are covers from a obscure doom metal band. Of course they are indeed all originals except 'Paranoid' of course and while I don't place huge importance on being original, this album does suffer from being awfully predictable at times. Part B of 'Psalm 139' is one of the worst offenders but it does have some killer riffing that has a real bite to it and the vocal lines are at least very memorable.
Turn the vinyl over and you get three songs starting off with the albums epic piece but the albums weakest original track 'Returnal Etern.' At almost 11 minutes, this track seems to wander aimlessly with changes that frustrate more than entertain. Driven mostly by keys, the song has a lot of changes but it seems to go around in circles and ends up being a long, tedious listening experience. 'You Have Been Warned' puts the album back on track with a total doom track that is high on concise guitar work and melodies and it comes as relief in light of the boring track that precedes it. Then comes the unique but rather pointless cover version of 'Paranoid.' They slow down the tempo and add keys but is it any good, I don't think so. Also it has to be said, if you are going to cover a Black Sabbath tune, why would you want to do this one ?
'Paranoid' brings 'The Harrowing Of Hell' to a rather disappointing end. Pylon reached a songwriting peak with the 77 minute 2009 album 'Doom' and that promised great things for the future. Since then the band have seem to have gone slightly backwards. The band are progressing as you can hear what they are trying to do and it is easy to spot how they have improved as musicians but song-wise, there is a lot missing from this new album. Whenever you listen to an album for the first time, you always wait for that blowout moment, that killer riff, that chorus that gets stuck in your head and so on. 'The Harrowing Of Hell' has only (perhaps) one of those moments and it is a short-lived one so there is not much to make me want to re-visit this album anytime soon. I will stick with albums like 'Doom' and 'Th' Eternal Wedding Band' and think of this one as a minor hiccup in a otherwise great catalog of doom metal releases.....6/10.