Pyriphlegethon and The Murky Black of Eternal Night (a Review–Not a Harry Potter Novel)


Maurice “Mories” de Jong, the shape-shifting busybody behind eight million of your favorite noisy black-metal-adjacent albums, is back in the rare and elusive form of Pyriphlegethon! (And to think people used to criticized Xasthur for being too prolific. Ha!)

Seriously now. You can’t swing a [dead animal of your choosing] ’round here without hitting a new release by ultra super mega prolific one-man-band-generator Mories. I don’t boogie down to everything he puts out—and in fact I’m not even sure how it’s humanly possible to have enough time to listen to everything he releases (which begs the question of how he has enough time to write, record and release it all)—but I do like the cut of his jib enough to give anything he does a whirl. So how does his Pyriphlegethon personality’s new album, The Murky Black of Eternal Night, stack up against the veritable library of works which have preceded it? For starters, you can rest assured that this is a black metal record through and through. And you can breathe easy knowing that it is nowhere near as spooky, noisy or bad-trip-inducing as most of Mories’s oeuvre tends to be. But don’t take my word for it. Take the words of a half-dozen brave, confused and demoralized citizens who wrote to me with questions/comments/fears about the album. I present their entries, followed by my advice, in order of how much I was paid to present them.

1. Ariel from Yuma, Arizona (yuck) writes:

Dear Shiny-Pated Bitch-Faced One,

My ears tell me this is Mories’s attempt to make a normal black metal album. And as such, proof positive that he is incapable of doing anything normal. This album is like a rickety old house full of old shit no one has used in decades. The bedroom-quality drumbeats are like the old stone foundation. The ridiculously simplistic riffs are like the skeletal structure showing through holes that junkies and vagrants have torn in the walls. The keyboard-driven atmosphere is like a hasty drywall job. The whole thing’s got a sort of derelict charm, but how long will it hold up? It’s falling apart, man.

Dear Ariel: Nice imagery. Need a job? 

2. Daniel from Green Bay, Wisconsin writes:

Dear Richter,

I am lactose intolerant, and this album–ostensibly a lo-fi black metal ouch-fest–is slathered in goth cheese, from the stench of the cheap horror synths to the weird blue mold of the four-on-the-floor deathrock beats. I know that it is bad for me, that it will lead to delirious extremes of gastronomic distress, and yet I cannot deny the allure. I want to put this inside of me. Is it the Devil telling me to do it—or am I a masochist? Is goth cheese no longer passé or do I suffer from a profound lack of good taste? Help me to not eat this cheese. Or to eat it. (I’ve stocked up on enough toilet paper to weather any storm.)

Dear Daniel: The heart wants what the heart wants. And if what your heart wants is to ingest enough goth cheese to induce cardiac arrest, then I think we both know what you must do.

3. Goatshitplacenta666 from Transylvania worries:

Dear False Fvck,

I can’t tell if this is good or bad black metal. It sounds good at first—but then I start to think that maybe it sounds bad. Maybe what I like about it is that it sounds just like innumerable other black metal albums throughout history, and the truth is that beyond this conservatism there are no good songs. But maybe good songs are false and in having no good songs and sounding like innumerable other black metal albums throughout history, this one achieves masterful levels of trveness? What I’m basically asking is whether or not liking this album will make me look cool.

Dear Goatshitplacenta666: Stop worrying about the arbitrary delineation between the trve and the false and just be you. Unless you are a dork who plays D&D. Then be somebody else.

4. Gwendolyn, Queen of Saskatchewan, from Pasadena, California says:

Dear Toilet,

I like how the drums are live for once (I think?) or else programed to sound like someone who just learned to play is playing them and I think the tinny lo-fi production adds to the mystique of the album and I like how all the riffs sound really miserable and all like, just fuck off, and I think the album gets a lot better as it goes along with how the better songs are actually stacked toward the end and fuck that guy Daniel right in the face because those keyboards are not goth cheese–they’re goth brilliance!!!

Dear Gwendolyn, Queen of Saskatchewan: Thank you for your effusive insights. Ritalin is not for everyone–but maybe it’s for you? 

5. Gaspar from Santiago, Chile says:

Dear Richter,

Pretty standard stuff. Used black metal riffs and atmosphere from the discount bin. But hey. Still better than that one album everyone is mad at you for flushing.

Dear Gaspar: Shhhhhhhhhhhhh. (Shhh.)

6. From Mike B. of Slacknut, Utah:

Dear Dude,

I don’t know, man. My seven-year-old sister kind of likes it. What should I do?

Dear Mike B.: First off, you should start borrowing music from your sister. That kid is going to be alright. You, I’m still a bit worried about . . .

So, there you have it. The People have spoken. What they’ve said, I’m not so sure. To sum up, in some ways The Murky Black of Eternal Night is a very safe black metal record; in others it is surprising and fresh. Pyriphlegethon doesn’t kick out any riffs or structures you haven’t heard before, and yet Mories manages to deliver the whole thing with just enough deranged verve to make it recognizably his own. Depending on your relationship with normality, you will either hear a modest success or a loopy failure. Unless you’re one of those “Fail Better” types who hears every loopy failure as a sort of accidental success in itself. In that case you might hear a stroke of genius. Or you might be having an actual stroke.

3/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

The Murky Black of Eternal Night comes out April 14th on Iron Bonehead.

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