The Dutch footballers who elevated the Beautiful Game to a height scarcely before imagined in the early 70s created the philosophy of ‘Total Football’. But while orange flavoured icons such as Neeskens, Krol and of course the peerless artisan Johan Cruyff, will forever be associated with all that is good and pure their fellow countrymen Pyriphlegethon are more likely to be recognised and remembered for an extreme brand of twisted black metal that perhaps we can christen ‘Total Death’ – not that blasphemers on this scale would ever entertain such a Christian ceremony of course.
The first three songs on this follow up to 2015 debut release Night of Consecration reference mankind’s final journey into the abyss, even though opener ‘Curse of the Old Coffin’ is a bleak and brief scene setting intro. Pyriphlegethon unleash their inner demons for the first time on the searing ‘Monument of Death’ with the theme of finality extending to track three, ‘Funeral Bells’.
Pyriphlegethon are Dutch deviants with a sound so primal that you almost suspect they’re still walking on all fours. The Murkey Black of Eternal Night is therefore not for the frail and vulnerable although in fairness these are descriptions rarely applied to Antichrist readers. The driving force behind the band is Mories, who many will know through Gnaw Their Tongues although De Magia Veterum and Cloak of Altering also fall under his far reaching radar.
‘Monument of Death’ is an intense release of power which the dispossessed and the damned are likely to embrace, the song actually benefitting from a late sonic switch to a higher rhythm.
While the good people of the Netherlands have a longstanding reputation as being among Europe’s calmer and more relaxed citizens, the feelgood factor seems to have evaded Pyriphlegethon who maintain a steady stream of bile throughout this 10-track release.
At times sounding as though it was recorded in a basement cellar, Pyriphlegethon would no doubt take that as a compliment. There is an essence of evil that permeates every twisted thrust and turn, you feel, every note guided by the Great Horned Beast.
‘The Serpents Tongue’ starts with a furious burst of drumming which you feel the kit will do well to survive. The vocals are dirty, snarled and biting while the distorted guitars and fuzzed up ambient atmosphere ensure that all the songs are smothered in darkness. In fact the prevailing mood is so punishingly bleak that you feel even turning the light on would fail to illuminate its crashing contours.
‘Summoning Ancient Evil’ probably cannot in all honesty be described as ‘catchy’. It is though one of the more infectious numbers and may even have you mumbling the chorus under your breath when you’re sitting on the bus. It’s slow pace, and contemptible delivery, is reminiscent of Tom G Warrior at times.
After a haunting piano interlude, the album’s title track gushes forth under a sonic storm of blitzed drumming, raging fuzzed riffs and the vitriolic vocals of Mories. ‘Cursed Blood’ is a far doomier number, methodically paced but with an added ethereal sheen that elevates the song to a slightly hallucinogenic stratosphere.
Penultimate song ‘The Coldest Grave’ has a punk DIY ethos running straight through it. It’s a bestial bloodbath and the drumming sounds as though a hotchpotch of old saucepans have been presented and the drummer tasked with making as many dents in them as he can physically muster. It’s barbaric and brutal but pulses with striking evil intent.
The name Pyriphlegethon stems from metal’s staple reference point, that of Greek mythology. It refers to the underworld river of blazing fire which fits in well with closing number ‘Night on a Black Mountain’ which does sound as though the current is flowing at tsunami like speed.
While the fella who hollers ‘Give us a P’ to try and raise a chant at a gig for the wordy Pyriphlegethon is likely to be greeted with a few worrying and mystified looks, a chance to witness these Dutch desperadoes live is surely too tempting an offer to decline should they bring their deliciously diseased sound to your town.