Pÿlon - A Lament - (9/10)
Published on August 6, 2016
Pÿlon are not exactly a well-known band. But this recent Swiss doom metal outfit is, if nothing else, one of the most hard-working and committed bands out there. A Lament marks their seventh full-length album since forming shortly after the turn of the century. Rarely do bands even make it to seven albums, let alone accomplish that in just over a decade. But to be frank, Pÿlon’s output has rarely been consistent. Some of their earlier records boasted playing times well in excess of an hour, and their long-windedness was a turn off to many listeners. Each album always had its set strong tracks, but a lot of the other tracks failed to deliver.
But the last three albums have seen Pÿlon take a different approach: fewer songs, shorter albums, and frankly much higher quality. A Lament is easily the best of these last three, and that’s saying quite a lot considering how strong Homo Homini Lupus was. But other than album length, Pÿlon haven’t really changed anything else. Their sound is as bold as ever: melancholic doom overflowing with equal measures of pomp and melody. As always, they deliver this majesty with their soaring (albeit slightly nasal) vocals that somehow grow more deeply into your favour with each subsequent listen. If it seems difficult to understand how “nasal” and “majestic” could exist side-by-side in a positive description of vocals, well then I can only say that you need to hear them for yourself.
The album begins with a synth-laden intro that is quickly interrupted by the heavier-than-life sound of riffs as slow and powerful as an industrial supertanker. They seem to have been inspired by the simplicity of Saint Vitus but opted for a more polished overall production which results in a final product that occasionally borders on the operatic. I don’t like to use the word operatic when it comes to metal, though. As soon as you bring that word into use, immediately people start thinking of voluptuous women in tight corsets belting out a bunch of cheesy songs for some European goth/power metal band. And that’s simply not what’s happening here at all. What you have here is a powerful vocalist whose reverbed voice haunts every track of the record with a palpable dread yet without any ridiculous over-the-top vibrato.
Like a lot of doom metal, most of the tracks here are definitely the low-tempo stuff. The guitar riffs and the snare plod along slowly, but the songs are hardly without instrumental fanfare. The lead guitarist’s prowess with soloing adds a whole new dimension to their sound not previously seen on previous works. Pÿlon’s greatest strength was always their songwriting and the lead guitar work always took a back seat, as I believe it should have. Interestingly enough, on this release the lead guitar takes the front-and-centre spot frequently. And when it does, it absolutely does not disappoint. For some of the best solos, one need only listen to highlights like “The Day After the War” or “Pantodynamos” to hear what I’m talking about.
I am fascinated by this album for the sole reason that it is simply unheard of to hear a band’s best output so late in their career. Which brings me back to my first thought – whether you like this band or not is immaterial. The fact that they are simply dedicated to their craft is undeniable. After many years of hard work and several albums later, it appears that they finally found their voice, something that most bands never get a chance to do.