Pyres indicate a burning, a cleansing or a ritual to rid the evil. Whether that evil manifest itself in the mind of the victim on the pyre, or perhaps of those who chose to burn that victim, is something that varies from scenario to scenario, and it’s not clear where En Nihil might fall on this spectrum. There is darkness in Pyres; but there’s no telling if En Nihil celebrates the ritual of sacrifice, or if he revels in the cleansing of the spirit. If all of this sounds like philosophical drivel based off of a thematic idea, you’re definitely right: welcome to noise.
There are six tracks on this release, three per side for a nice even distribution of sound. The release comes with a black J-card with a print of some foggy picture in greyscale with… “things” poking out of the mist. Not sure what they are – to me they either look like dinosaur necks or long ballet dancer legs. Anyway, the cassette looks great, another good showing from Maniacal Hatred.
As for the sound, En Nihil’s noise is somewhat different from the martial rhythms of his recent CD The Absolute. Opener “I” begins with some fuzzy static, a very deep bass line that shakes the core, and a feedback loop that stretches across the static in repeated strands. Pyres is less musical, more noticeably industrial in its use of electronic sounds as rhythm makers.
With that said, sometimes Pyres packs less of an aggressive punch in its power electronics; the mid-paced beats from static and juddering bass are toned down and less harsh, more condensed in their layering. Perhaps I shouldn’t hold En Nihil to produce the same sound again, but these soundscapes become more hypnotic in their softly sprawling sparks than the moniker would suggest they should. “II”, however, manages to slice right through the listener with feedback accompanied by muffled vocal samples in the background, cluttering the entire track with a junk aesthetic that is more akin to the nasty nature of PE. It also clearly hits its stride again toward the end of “III”, an unrelenting spray of screaming static blasting at the listener with a fury that I love from the artist.
“IV” establishes a good drone with a solid line of feedback running atop gnashing wheels repeatedly spinning underneath. It’s crunchy and dark, but the constant shifts in sound lose the intensity of the beginning build. There’s a tendency on Pyres to continually explore new sound terrain on the same track, a method that tosses away the finer qualities of En Nihil’s tribal rhythms for the eclecticism of harsh noise.
It doesn’t work as well to establish that sense of power in “power electronics”; the fleeting repetition allows for little climax. Instead, Pyres is a more extensive sound with a less enveloping reaction, a chaotic blend of harsh noises that never quite come together into the intensity that En Nihil can reach. What’s left burning on the pyre are those anthemic rhythms of clashing noise, sounds that ring out the darkest nature of self-sacrifice.