Album: Nodus Tollens – EP
Most of us go through our lives with a firm grip on who we are and how we want our lives to proceed. For many, that means a 9-to-5 job you don’t necessarily like to support a family you love. Maybe you’ve got some hobbies and friends to participate in them with—you probably collect something and your car is probably a four-door heap that your high-school self would be ashamed of. The point is that most lives have a “plot”—a story arch they follow and many of us build our identities around it.
But what happens when no matter what you try, you can’t seem to stay on track? You find yourself alone, brooding and feasting on solitude rather than starting families and contributing to the citizenry. Your thoughts dwell on violence and aggression as opposed to productivity and pleasantry. This is Nodus Tollens—a complete lack of the sense of belonging, and the desperation that comes forth. It is bitterness and aggravation at finding yourself locked out of the life you should be leading—and most importantly, it is the debut EP by Connecticut crushers in Pry. Over twenty minutes of relentless aggression and ruthless brutality all summed up by a simple, jarring and violent three-letter verb. With ten-ton grooves that decay into behemoth breakdowns and spine-shredding slams topped off with vocals that personify Hell itself, Nodus Tollens sentences the listener to the only place they truly belong: the grave.
Instrumentally, Pry is perhaps the purest example of downtempo deathcore since Traitors’ debut EP. Rarely moving faster than a snail’s pace, Pry are a juggernaut with a collective strength that makes The Hulk look like a seven year old girl. Nodus Tollens exists to smother the listener in dark, depressive downtempo devastation and Pry do it as if they were veterans of the heavy music scene. Percussionist Hunter Spader is a tank, setting the speed and tone for every track, from the eerie introduction to the haunting anthem “Loathe” to the (relative) quickness of “Torn,” Spader’s drumming is an ideal blend of slow, churning heaviness and flashy, fill-dotted patterns. “Battered” is one track in particular that sees Spader spicing things up—adding fleet footwork and steady blast beats to keep the momentum gathered from “Loathe” moving. Here, Spader works excellently with bassist Zack Bibens to create a dancy-but-dismal low end. Bibens’ bass grooves never steal the show with speed or technicality (it’s still downtempo, after all), but they do dominate when it comes to a simply unbelievable tone. Simultaneously snappy and shaky, Bibens’ bass rattles the listener to their core, adding even more meat and thickness to Spader’s already chunky kick drum. Where Spader and Bibens’ low end is something to make note of, it is only barely lower than the grooves and chugs from guitarists Austin Parsons and Thomas Novotny. Rarely Parsons will let loose with a high-fretted eerie lead while Novotny keeps the chugs coming (“Odium” showcases this well), but frequently the dynamic duo take turns decimating the listener with devilish grooves and demonic breakdowns that redefine “heavy.” “Odium,” as well as “Spite” are textbook examples—as Parsons and Novotny manage to do the impossible and harmonize with Bibens’ bass to unleash hell on the listener in the form of figurative megatons of spine-shrinking brutality.
Not to be one to break Pry’s dynamic of unyielding heaviness, frontman Michael Jacques is a juggernaut, letting loose with some of the boldest, beefiest vocals since Bodysnatcher’s Kyle Medina. With portions of “Grudge” sounding more like Satan’s constipated howls more than anything human, and “Loathe” being a rare example of a downtempo Deathcore track with excellent lyrics, Jacques’ performance on Nodus Tollens adds even more aggression and heaviness when it seemed impossible—and if you think it ends there, you are sorely mistaken. Home to an entire army of impressive guest vocalists, even those who don’t fall in love with Jacques’ grisly gurgles will find solace from I AM’s Andrew Hileman, SCVM’s Dylan Daniels, or any of the other appearances. In spite of a collection of incredible guests, however, they aren’t even truly needed—as Jacques will undoubtedly become one of the underground’s next vocal powerhouses, even in admission of rare lyrical missteps.
Remember in January of 2015 when Bodysnatcher’s Abandonment managed to be the downtempo release of the year—firmly establishing the genre’s presence in the heavy music underground? Well, in light of the style’s slow dissipation (in favor of nu-metalcore and raw, powerful metalcore), Pry stand their ground and release 2016’s first truly incredible downtempo release. Fans of the genre will remember WHY they fell in love with it, and skeptics might find themselves digging it just enough to make it a permanent member of their collection. With examples of lyrical brilliance in “Loathe” and “Battered,” as well as clear moments of beatdown influence throughout “Dread,” Nodus Tollens is pure heaviness concentrated down into an easy-to-swallow 20-something minute long dose. Pry’s debut is a collection of moments where propriety and the human psyche collapse—where peace succumbs to violence forcing the listener to see red. Pry are the new face of low, slow deathcore—and not a single force on this planet can pry them from their throne.
For Fans Of: Bodysnatcher, Falsifier, Rex, Genocide District, TRIBE
By: Connor Welsh