Not Spiritually HealingReview by joanismylover, the third metal attorney.
What is the purpose of listening to music? Why does one spend countless hours loading up iTunes with MP3s? Why does she put the stylus to the vinyl and the vinyl to the computer via USB cables? Why does she roam the back aisles of goodwill stores to ransack incoming record collections? Why does one jam out to the local record store at lunch to pick up the latest Overkill CD? Why sort through countless promo emails to choose which of the latest Polish death metal bands to review? Is it a quest? A journey to find the most extremely extreme awesomely- awesome metal metalness? One ponders such things listening to Pyrrhon's The Mother of Virtues.
One reason to listen is to be moved - either figuratively and literally - spiritually or physically - or both. In the metal world such movement usually involves snapping necks, slamming into a fellow metal brother or sister, and generally "ripping shit up". The Mother of Virtues does not induce such physical movement. Technical death metal bands often move the music but the music does not often move the listener. That over-generalization holds true here. Figuratively the movement in metal can be all over the place but the spiritual movement usually induced ranges from despondence to empowerment to soul lifting highs. Even black metal,* evokes spiritual emotions - depending on the listener these will vary from total emptiness to paradoxically, uplifting affirmations of spiritual conflict. As it was with the physical movement requirement, The Mother of Virtues does not create any figurative spiritual movements in the listener.
One does feel tension. Rapid fire, off kilter, clashing is the "music" here. The figurative movement evoked here is conflict, probably internal. It is chaotic. Frantic. It's definitely extreme. But to this listener, the one thing not felt was enjoyment. This would be perfect torture music, the most ardent terrorist/freedom fighter would crack after listening to "Invisible Injury" on repeat for a couple of hours. The mental injuries would not be invisible. The plans to the death star handed over, the location of the rebel base revealed.
To some readers, this conflicted noise may just what the doctor ordered. Metal enthusiasts will be hard pressed to find a more maximally intense experience this year. For that distinct subset of listeners this is probably a five star release. It is not dull. Metal has come a long way from its blues infused origins - Black Sabbath and Deep Purple - and everything does not have to sound like the rock n' roll metal joyride that is Riot's Fire Down Under.** But the listener's experience should not be overly arduous. She should want to put the vinyl on the record player, the disc in the player, the mp3 into the digital media storage device. For this reviewer, the Mother of Virtues listening experience was a chore on par with Sisyphus rolling the rock up the hill. Thankfully, that rock was rolled up only three times.
2.5 stars (0 from me, 5 for the extremely extremes = 2.5)
*Indeed, in particular black metal evokes such spirituality.
**1981 - metal's greatest year? 1984 might have something to say about that.