It would be a waste of time to express my appreciation, dedication, respect, whatever, for Dutch musician / artist – oops, that’s too much; ‘artist’ or ‘musician’ are monikers way too inferior, way too extreme, hehe, for this guy also performs as Gnaw Their Tongues or Aderlating… Anyway, Maurice ‘Mories’ de Jong has about 333 projects going; some even more intriguing than others.
Under the moniker of Pyriphlegethon, named after (the god of) one of the rivers of death within the ancient Greek mythology, Maurice (here aka MdeJong) did record this third full-length during Winter 2020-2021. Like many (most) of his projects, it is another solo-effort, finished about four years after “The Murky Black Of Eternal Night”. “Gales Of Atrocious Whispering” was independently released via digital sources, and a limited physical version on tape does exist as well; the latter being courtesy of the sweet label Kapmes Records (a ‘kapmes’ is like a machete), also from Holland’s fertile soil. It consists of eight individual yet cohesively related lullabies, clocking about thirty-six minutes.
The album starts with a short yet nice intro, Sing The Devil Song, an orchestral symphony, martially bombastic and cinematically horrifying. It is like an opened portal to the underworlds of Phlegethon. As from The Defiling Of Altars, Pyriphlegethon bring a very pompous form of Atmospheric / Symphonic Black Metal. And from its deepest core, it breathes a respectable expression of old-styled gracefulness. It is not that Nordic-oriented kind of Old School sweetness, but “Gales Of Atrocious Whispering” rather seeks inspiration in the more occult, ritualistic as well as thrashing regions of the (European) scene.
The experience is melodically driven, with the guitar leads and many tremolo melodies taking you on a darkened trancelike journey. It is a first expression of the diverse approach, for the guitar-work carries the whole structure as a spine, yet it acts like an all-covering veil too. The nicest thing is to notice that the strongly guitar-based compositions do not purely focus on that six-string execution, without paying attention to all other instrumental (and vocal) elements. But the melodies offer that memorable recognizance that typifies this album.
A very remarkable element is the extreme variation in speed. In the first place, this concerns each ‘individual’ song. All of them consist of different tempo-changes and once in a while a well-thought break. It lifts the whole listening experience up to challenging proportions. But it is striking to notice that half of the tracks are build around a slower basement, while others stand for expressively brute and intense fast-forward heaviness. When talking about the slower ones, well, these ones have a distinct epic character, touching the tradition of Pagan lore. “Where Fire Licks The Nightly Sins”, for example, is an example, evoking bathorian boldness and valor. Then again, the faster, thrashing compositions are the hymns of vengeance and intolerance, not intended to take prisoners alive. Yet despite this contrast, the result remains cohesive the whole of the time.
Pyriphlegethon comes with many aspects that are unique, characteristic in essence. Let’s take the drum-work, for instance. There is such intriguing / interesting variation, with traditional salvos and progressive, almost jazzy patterns, slower and doomed drum-hits and purely sordid cymbal-rape-macho-stuff, if you get me. A cool example is “A Celestial Storm Of Sin”, a track in which the drums / percussions create a continuously disturbing yet astonishing arousal.
Another important detail, modest and intimate yet considerably meaningful, is the use of synths. “Gales Of Atrocious Whispering” is not a keyboard-laden album, and the use of synths gets just sporadically applied, but the few parts that do include them get heavily covered in a semi-passionate stylishness. Especially the few rather epic-styled moments take advantage of these synths.
I mentioned a certain ‘orthodox’ approach, referring to that glorious era when the scene conquered the world (and before Black Metal became a mainstream genre), but Pyriphlegethon’s song-writing (and therefor its execution as well) has an innovative, little progressive touch? No, with ‘progressive’ I am not talking about a Prog-oriented playing style. Nevertheless the structure and effectuation have an own, recognizable sound. Which easily brings me to the ‘sound’, as in ‘production’. Well, that one is quite droning, roughly-edged and dingy, even obtrusively unpolished, and still well-balanced when analyzing the mix, the equilibrium of all instruments and voices (mainly harshly blackened, with a very limited amount of wretched spoken parts of growls, by the way). Many elements refer to ancient Hellas (it starts with the project’s moniker), but the sources of inspiration surely caress the likes of Necromantia or earlier Rotting Christ (amongst many other trans-European acts), and the impure production strengthens this statement for sure. (Ivan “Concreteweb” Tibos”)