Pyres - Year of Sleep [Review]At times the debut album from Toronto’s Pyres is like a runaway 28-wheel grime-covered steam engine, hissing steam and spitting boiling oil at you as it thunders past, the earth trembling as much with fear as with the sheer momentum and driving rhythm. At others it seems to be more peaceful, delicate and almost uplifting, providing contrast and space. But this is simply a case of surveying the scene from a different perspective before the carnage hits, and it’s never long before 200 tons of dirty, rust-stained metal chug forth relentlessly once more.

Opener ‘Proximity’ builds this driving force, applying power to the rails methodically and with purpose before handing it to ‘Deserter’ as it chugs heavily under the twin guitars adding a riff here, a flourish there, and the gruff vocals bellow a warning to anyone standing in its path. Toward the end of this rollicking behemoth the whole thing begins to run out of steam and the intensity dissipates in anticipation of the next onslaught.

The title track starts with light open picking and tends toward a prog metal sensibility as the cycle of emotion rises and falls over the course of almost ten minutes. The remaining tracks follow the same slow to mid-tempo psych sludge-fest until the depressing hopelessness of the closing bars – in this case that rare beast, the proper song ending. Yes, that’s right, the song has an ending rather than an absence of more notes, and it also concludes the record perfectly with a depressing realisation that we’re all doomed.

This very well written, played and produced record tells a story in which the perspective changes in a way that you rarely see, where its heart, its essence, is not the only element followed as it pans to a wide shot before honing back in on the anguish of the protagonist and then onto the aftermath of its destructive force. It’s not the only record to use contrast and dynamics, but the feel it creates is less common. At its core, this album is a relentless juggernaut of riffs and intense vocals and rhythm, but it paints a backdrop as well, and despite borrowing heavily from Baroness and Mastodon it displays an identity of its own.

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