Seputus Evokes “The Learned Response” to Extreme, Avant-Garde Metal (Early Track Stream)
Any new project from the Pyrrhon guys is always a welcome addition. It may seem unfitting at first to refer to Seputus in such a way, but this stance is backed up by more than just the core lineup of the group entirely consisting of members of Pyrrhon. Musically, Seputus on their latest record often recall the abrasive and adventurous approach to technical death metal Pyrrhon themselves broke with on their Relapse debut The Mother of Virtues. The main group has gone on to explore progressively more freaked-out fringe noise rock and experimental metal terrain, one foot in extremity and the other roaming further and further from death metal toward the arthouse punk and avant-rock world for new ideas. This, in turn, has opened up the members to pursue death metal in its various forms again. Weeping Sores, a band that includes several Pyrrhon members, looks at the progressive death-doom wing of the genre, while vocalist Doug Moore's project Glorious Depravity can be included in this loose constellation as a substantially more straight-ahead investigation of the most gruesome of metal musics. This frees Seputus up to orient themselves back toward the same kinds of sounds that Pyrrhon started their careers making, not unlike how the members of Katatonia created Bloodbath as a means of tapping back into the extreme music that once birthed them. It's a musical relation not immediately apparent when investigating the history of the project, but one that feels pressingly sonically apparent to those familiar with the work of this group of players.
"The Learned Response," as a single, captures well the energy and broad shape of the record. There is something uplifting and even exalting about the track, feeling in turns similar to the energy of a screamo or post-hardcore piece while sonically staying rooted firmly in a frantic avant-death metal world that will be familiar to anyone comfortable with the post-Gorguts world of the genre. Check out the track now (featuring Dan Gargiulo from Artificial Brain/ex-Revocation), from their upcoming album Phantom Indigo:
This is a collective adept at interweaving challenging sonic textures and avant-garde touches in a manner that makes them make intuitive sense; there is often a repeating and easily-grasped rhythmic motif behind the more demanding textures that makes the skronk feel less like a cheap gimmick and more a sincere expressive color for chords and melodies. The song plays out over its eight minutes in a way that feels at once to gesture toward heavy metal epics, a new "Jack Luminous" in miniature, just as much as it rips and tears with punk and grind freneticism. The recording and mix from drummer Steve Schwegler does the composition wonders, giving it a fibrousness that feels less artificially raw like some extreme metal bands gesture toward and more like the untamed wildness of a band playing music live. The heat and energy of the recordings pivotally keep away from the cold clinicism that's too often the trademark of technical death metal. This is especially apparent in the vocals, with Moore often sounding more like an elemental or a shrieking banshee than a man, exactly the kind of throat-shredding intensity you want from music like this. If the key insight of the fusion of screamo and post-hardcore into extreme metal was the sharp and stark injection of raw humanity and emotional intensity into already sonically intense music, then this what its apex looks like. These are musicians at the top of their game as shown across multiple releases in a variety of progressive and experimental death metal stylings; of course this is incredible.
From the band:
Phantom Indigo took five years to complete from start to finish. It is my greatest personal artistic achievement to date, and it is another love letter to the extreme metal genre for the outlet it has provided me.
This was the first song I started writing and putting together for this album. This was mid-January 2016. I borrowed a term from the psychological concept of conditioning. A “learned response” describes a broad feeling of conditional stimulus, or conditioned response to neutral stimulus. For example, a loud car horn may mean nothing to a person who’s never crashed a car, but to someone who has it can be traumatic. I was thinking a lot about how I’d changed, what previous influences I was carrying around, how I would progress after being conditioned by my military time, being worried about re-adjusting myself, etc.
The lyrics on Phantom Indigo deal with the psychological pathologies that can develop under circumstances of isolation and purposelessness. I conceived and wrote most of the lyrics over a period of several years during which I worked from home at a job that I didn’t care about; I spent almost all of my time alone, dutifully repeating routines that felt utterly trivial and meaningless. My mental health deteriorated significantly before I finally extricated myself from this situation. These lyrics document some of the mental loops I found myself caught in during that episode, and the baroque interior fortifications I constructed to protect myself against my (often wholly imaginary) fears. All three members of Seputus have gotten stuck in this fashion at some point in our lives, so it seemed like an appropriate focus for the album – which Steve and I worked on in isolation from each other, for the most part.