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I'm surprised to see that this album, let alone this band doesn't have any reviews on here yet. Age of the Wicked is easily one of the most impressive albums I've heard this year, quite heavy and chaotic, whilst containing some incredibly catchy and memorable grooves. As for what to expect, I have to tell you to ignore the "Brutal Death Metal" tag, and also ignore the bands art on their website. Because when I listen to this album, I don't hear that much brutality, I mean it's heavy, but really, anyone who can digest Deicide could handle this easily, and demons molesting mutilated corpses isn't the first image that comes into my head when listening to this band.
Pyrexia play a brand of death metal which draws a little from hardcore, and doesn't rely on playing at full speed all the time, Creating memorable songs, which all have their own quirks and advantages. Most songs seem to be about 50% brutality, and then 50% memorable crushing groove. The best thing about the song writing as there really isn't any straight up "let's just do the normal routine" filler. Every song has it's own standout aspects, from the extremely catchy outro of "The Wicked Rise", to the higher screaming in "Prey The Weak", to the mosh worthy grooves of "Song of Hate". There's just a lot of different ideas, spaced nice and evenly between bouts of extreme Death Metal. If you have the album on loop, after the first listen, you'll know that you're listening to the first track again when it comes around, without looking at the name. These songs are very memorable.
The band has definitely got a hold on how to make good songs. They play with technicality when bringing on the speed, and are willing to leave the egos alone when they just want you to get caught up in the groove, resulting in quite a refreshing listen.
The guitar work is interesting and varied. Chris Basile and Lee Cuzins are both comfortable with high speeds, and can also write some really catchy slower pieces, which manage to both not hurt the flow of the songs, and keep you interested. The faster riffs can go from fairly clean and catchy, such as the riffs in the opener. But there’s also a few uglier riffs here and there, which definitely have more old school roots. Such as the extremely brutal "Shackles of the Mind", which remind me of Suffocation in sound. The solos, in complete contrast to the relatively clean instrumentation of the normal riffs, are all about being ugly. They're not exactly simple, but they definitely make up bands ugly quota here. Like the riffs, there are lots of different sounding solos. All are very screechy, they just all have different ideas, and so it's not just a mindless shred every time.
The drumming is interesting, not technically stunning, but brilliantly written, moving between more standard time-keeping beats, to fast, inventive, albeit not overly difficult fills, often involving a lot of cymbal work. And finally you even get some good quality blasting. Oddly enough, sometimes they sound good, sometimes they don't. It's almost like they had two different snares in the studio, and they lost the good one when recording a few of the songs. Probably the best thing about the drumming is the cymbal use, which is far, far more diverse and frequent than any other Death Metal bands I can think of.
The bass work is basically drowned out, and due to the aggressive tones of the album, there's not too many chances for it to come through. When given space, it does kick ass, the bass break in "The Wicked Rise" is thunderous and fast. "Song of Hate" utilises it too, but more often to not, there's a lot too much going on for the bass to shine through.
The vocals are kind of what you expect Frank Mullen to sound like if he sang for a hardcore band. It's throaty and harsh, but not too shouty, so it's not a big problem. I tend to despise shouty death vocals (Cryptopsy without Lord Worm, and Emeth for example), but these are more than listenable. Erick Shutte’s voice is easily distinguishable, so it is pretty easy to understand most of the lyrics. They seem to be pretty good, but I haven't read the lyrics at all, so I can't really give any detail. I have to say that as the album progresses they get more immature, with both "Ode To Brinn" and "No Apologies" seeming a bit simple... "Die Mother Fucker" just doesn't stimulate my mind much.
Helping out the band is the nice, thick production, which helps the crushing sections be a lot heavier, and in most cases at the end of the album be utterly devastating. Such as "Ode to Brinn" which is just incredibly violent. And the heavy production helps this to no end. Everything is a little scratchy, which just adds to the brutal side of this album, but the producer has been careful to make sure that everything is easy to hear, meaning that the faster sections don't lose any real clarity. The soloing sound is another story, where everything is on the border of dissolving into a noteless mess, but the band plays well enough to pull it off. There are a couple of times where the snare sounds a little shit on the drums, but really that’s all the production flaws.
This has been my first experience with Pyrexia, who has been around for a while. So I may be treating stuff that they've been doing for 15 years as amazing thoughtful original content, but I have to say that this album has impressed the hell out of me. And I would recommend this to anyone who has the slightest interest in Death Metal.