Ohio-based three-piece sludge machine PYTHIAN are set to release their second EP, ‘Understanding in Light’ (2022), which like its predecessor ‘The Great Silence’ (2019) consists of four hefty tracks and clocks in just a tad under thirty minutes in length.
The record commences with a section of noise in which we hear a clinical-sounding voice that seems to be explaining what’s wrong and how to make it better. His words sometimes skip or repeat themselves, which gives off a kind of trippy feeling – like I’m hearing it all through the thick mental haze of a medicated trance.
I can’t be sure of what is really going on, and perhaps that is the point, to bathe us in disorientation. The growing crescendo of cacophony has the effect of tuning out that voice of reason altogether, and then the song proper (“Last Fires”) begins.
Cort Cummerow’s deep, resonant drumming clears the way, stomping down tall grass and kicking aside debre. The irradiated bass of Pat Peltier singes the ground as we walk. Following this, a hail of tremeloes and beastly roars from frontman Ray Barry. We’ve been haunted and followed, condemned to carry the weight of this ancient curse, he laments.
Gradually, we reach a point where we can observe the torched landscape of our collective past. Then comes the realization: these last fires will burn and last. Could this be a poetic allusion to the ravages of COVID-19?
We’ve been haunted and followed
Condemned to carry the weight of this ancient curse
In the death and the dying
Whatever it references, it’s damned relatable in these harsh times. The guitar solo around the four-minute mark accents the mood. It’s touched by the sorrow of waiting, forever waiting, in a place “where men have gone to hide from God.” This is doom!
Pythian’s Understanding in Light presents with urgency and passion, yet finds moments for quiet reflection amidst the chaos. Look for it this weekend, releasing digitally and on compact disc c/o Cursed Monk Records (pre-order here). Today you can hear all its fullness as Doomed & Stoned hosts the streaming premiere!
Prior to the Second Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, the northwestern portion of the state of Ohio was occupied by the Great Black Swamp – a nearly impenetrable mire of filth and disease. Over the course of 150 years the land was rehabilitated, rose to prominence as a manufacturing mainstay, and then plunged into a typical Rust Belt depression. Today, this region, which includes the Toledo metropolitan area, is haunted by ghosts of both eras – empty fields of dried scum and abandoned, decrepit buildings define the landscape. It is also the home of Pythian, a band which is largely a product of its environment.
After forming in the year 2018, the three-piece spent several years crafting a tumultuous sound fueled by the misery around them – sludge, doom, post-metal, and noise all slurred together in a manner both elusive and menacing. The band released their first EP »The Great Silence« in 2019 and followed it up with a three-way split with Bifid Corpse and Surfer James in early 2022. Now their most recent creation »Understanding In Light« drives their music to its most tormented point yet. Pythian searches for wisdom in suffering and presents their findings across 30 tense minutes and 4 harrowing songs. Each track on this release echoes with the anguish of the area in which it was conceived – to hear this EP is to taste the pain that hangs over their homeland.