KROH have returned with their latest EP, Pyres. The doom oriented outfit have risen to fame over the past couple of years, with their album Altars helping them land slots touring across Europe and gracing the Sophie Lancaster Stage at this year’s Bloodstock Festival. Compared to the rest of their discography, how does Pyres fare up and how have the band developed in the year between releases?
Pyres opens with the malevolent Triumph of Death; an instrumental track with droning riffs and a slow drum pattern that almost hypnotises as much as it sucks you in. Flowing straight into the only track off the EP released prior to its full release is Rigor Mortis, which was a painful teaser for fans of the band. This showed a slightly different side of KROH, with an initially more upbeat and fast-tempo feel compared to their previous efforts. As the track reverts back to a more familiar tone, a lone drum pattern from Rychard Stanton pats in the background as vocalist Oliwia kicks in with her entrancing vocals before the rest of the band chime in, building up atmosphere and intensity before the chorus. In this song in particular, Darren Donovan‘s bass lines are crisp and pack a large punch, which is part of the appeal of this track. A nice solo also helps to bind the track together, and, as equally catchy as it is intense, Rigor Mortis hits the EP off to a strong start.
One of the most intriguing tracks on Pyres is Nemertean Girl, which is equal parts entrancing and disturbing. With this track, KROH bring back their signature sound but amplified and heightened on every level. Oliwia’s haunting vocals resonate perfectly with devastatingly slow riffs as she sings “Girl, you shouldn’t play with fire” and sends chills down your spine. Moriah is the longest track on the EP and demonstrates the band really experimenting more. Opening with some peculiar chanting and having an overall grief-stricken vibe to it, it develops into a full-blown chug of riffs and haunting vocals from Oliwia. Alongside this, it also includes male backing vocals creeping in the background, and Oliwia taking a step back towards the end of the song, providing quiet vocals which become distorted while the rest of the band take charge before the same chanting closes the track. Moriah is hands down the most impressive track of the record, and the clearest demonstration that KROH have spent a lot of time developing their sound.
The EP ends with Despair – Resolve, which suitably closes the newest offering from KROH. Beginning with traditional, gargantuan riffs from Paul Kenney and Paul Harrington and slow, steady drum blasts, the instrumental piece slowly begins to chime out and wind down, almost helping you recover from the onslaught of riffs and the mix of feelings that pour out of KROH‘s music. The distorted sounds and vocals towards the end of the outro are rather unsettling, but this adds to the record’s appeal. While it may be slightly disappointing to have two instrumental pieces in a five-track EP and it would have been nicer to have an extra full song with Oliwia’s vocals, this is a minor complaint as what KROH have offered with Pyres is excellent overall.
Pyres is an excellent continuation of KROH‘s sound, with clear improvements heard across the board. The band sound tighter and more comfortable than ever before, with clear experimentation and expansion being heard on all parts. Pyres is a standout record within doom, and helps cement the band as one of the most impressive within their respective genre today. An excellent addition to any doom connoisseur’s collection, Pyres is absolutely worth ordering.
Pyres is out now via Devizes Records.
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