Jazz influenced metal is not a combination that is likely to knock your socks off in amazement. Shining exist as an example of free jazz inspired metal. Hedvig Mollestad Trio continue to put out quality works of guitar forward, jazz with a heavy feel. Further, Oranssi Pazuzu has led the charge of metal bands leaning in the jam band direction. So experimentation, particularly with jazz rhythms and riffs is not something to be shocked over (especially not when the band is from New York City the home of legendary experimentalists Pyrrhon). The way in which Geryon employs their influence is, however, something new. While not the most accessible or palatable record of the year, The Wound and the Bow is certainly an interesting listen worth the roughly forty-five minutes of your time.Geryon is the baby of bassist/vocalist Nicholas McMaster and drummer Lev Weinstein of Krallice. Much like Dianogah or Don Caballero, the band plays mostly instrumental music that derives complexity from rhythms stemming from their excellent drumming. It can be described as avant-garde technical prog-death metal or any combination of those terms. The album contains aspects of all those things as well as electronic accompaniment and flourishes that really put it over the top.
It’s the band’s talent that is immediately apparent “Silent Command” although tracks like “Skein” in particular show off Weinstein’s ability. The drumming is relentless and, while primarily built around blast beats, the work on the bass drum is particularly impressive.
Not to be outdone, McMaster creates lyrical, complex and twisting bass riffs. Further, his vocal contributions, on tracks like “Legion” serve to help power the duo’s performance forward. The title track itself is likely the most drowning and challenging experience on the album. The bass is filtered through multiple effects peddles creating a near gurgling effect while the drums alternate between bass rolls and halting, staccatto-laden snare slaps. There are also heavy bass chords that, when paired with the double bass and cymbal work, create a near apolcalyptic feel. Thus, as the album progresses it gets darker.
The album is the band’s second and, in contrast to their 2013 self-titled debut The Wound and the Bow seems subdued and somehow stripped down. The clarity and purpose of the recording allow the talents of both members to bubble to the surface. Throughout the experience tortured vocals float to the surface tying the entirety of the tracks together. It’s necessary as the bass riffs are so cyclical and repetitive that it’s easy to get lost in the cohesiveness of hte composition—neither instrument ever seems to take the lead or overpower the other.
The Wound and the Bow is not going to be for everybody. But those people that do enjoy it are going to absolutely love it. In particular, musicians will be interested in the complexity of the composition and the myriad of bass tones and electronic accompaniment that is added in throughout. The album is a twisting, turning experience full of subdued blasts and cyclical, mesmerizing bass riffs. All in all it’s quite an experience.