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If you were lucky enough to be in the crowd at Saint Vitus last Thursday, you probably came face-to-face with Couch Slut vocalist Megan Osztrosits as she prowled the floor, screaming about physical and psychological torture. The double album-release show for Pyrrhon and Couch Slut, featuring opening sets from New Jersey death metal band Replicant and Philadelphia grindcore band Mob Terror, was confrontational from start-to-finish, with plenty of light violence on the audience’s part to match. Couch Slut has a track record of putting out fascinating and eclectic metal that blurs the lines between hardcore, harsh noise and thrash metal, and their new album on Gilead Media, Contempt, is no exception. Lyrically, Couch Slut is unparalleled in their ability to conjure doom and terror. It’s one thing to listen to Osztrosits talk about horrifying sexual violence from the safety of your iPhone. But to hear her scream “Dressed like that at a funeral? You’re gonna give someone the wrong idea” as she writhed and hiked up her shorts to reveal the word “dream” scrawled on her ass, you are forced to confront the reality behind her words.

Sitting on the sidewalk outside the venue after the show, Osztrosits underscored the necessity of such an aggressive performance: “It’s alienating but it’s my only choice. It’s not something I like to do. If I wasn’t doing this, I would be screaming on the streets. Cops don’t believe you. I have to scream at people in their face.”

Brooklyn-based heavyweights Pyrrhon followed Couch Slut’s sprawling set with a comparatively traditional performance of fast technical death metal. That’s not to say that vocalist Doug Moore let the crowd off easy as he paced the stage, at times shoving his fists in the air to punctuate the brutality in his lyrics. If the reaction from the audience was any indication, Pyrrhon has reached legend status as local heroes in the three years between their last full-length release, The Mother of Virtues and their new release, What Passes for Survival. The album is already a shoo-in for year-end lists thanks to Pyrrhon’s trademark mix of poetic musings on body horror and politics (“Not Nazis, just into the aesthetic” Moore assures us on “Goat Mockery Ritual”) and cross-genre instrumentality. Moore’s low growl was even more captivating in person than on the album, due in large part to his theatrical performance, glorious mane, and bulging muscles. Guitarist Dylan DiLella paid homage to avant-garde hardcore with his Neurosis T-shirt, and fittingly, his riffs alternated between melodic and abrasive with impressive technical proficiency. By the end of the night, the audience looked emotionally and physically exhausted, but that may have been exactly what Couch Slut and Pyrrhon intended.

-Arielle Gordon

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