In celebration of its twenty-fifth anniversary, New York’s Brutal Death Metallers Pyrexia are re-releasing their 1997 System Of The Animal album, not as a remaster as many bands might be tempted to do, but as a completely re-recorded and, to some extent, reimagined release.
Pyrexia – System Of The Animal 25 (Gravitas Entertainment)
Release Date: 6 June 2023
Words: Jools Green
“This album was ahead of its time in 1997,” Chris Basile, guitarist, founder and sole original member remaining told us. “I don’t think a lot of people were ready for such a mix of Brutal Death Metal VS. Beatdown Hardcore. When people hear this material with the production we put together with Demigod Studio, combined with the fact that the music was written in the mid-90s, I think it puts Pyrexia in a whole new light for a lot of people. I think the songwriting is really going to stand out for listeners bored with bands that put out the same album over and over.”
For this recording, Chris Basile is joined again by the ‘new’ line-up, as opposed to the ’97 line-up, of longstanding members Shaun Kennedy on bass, Jim Beach on vocals and John Glassbrenner on drums. The most noticeable difference compared to the ’97 version, aside from the improvement in modern recording quality, is the vocals, with Jim delivering a more indecipherable Brutal Death-style guttural gurgle.
I do like the old vocals, which leaned more towards a Hardcore style, laid down by Keith DeVito on the original release, but somehow Jim’s suit a more Brutal Death sound and are powerfully impactful too.
Also, although the Beatdown Hardcore aspect is still there, the balance has shifted slightly towards their Brutal Death side with the guitar delivery.
Fans of the previous release should love this just as much. They haven’t messed with the fundamental basics of the album, the track listing and time scale are the same. The songs are instantly recognisable and they haven’t tried to make it more technically complex either, focusing still on delivering their trademark simplicity. There is a skilled use of tempo shifts, but this time with extra brutality and density to the overall sound.
System Of The Animal really is a great listen end to end and regarding stand-out tracks, I’ve got four. The opener Confrontation is just superb. It’s brutal from the offset thanks to the in-your-face guttural vocals and punchy riffing.
Then Downsized, because it’s crushingly hypnotic, with well-delivered, heavy-as-hell riffs and pummelling drum work. Also Purging The Nemesis is a brutal chugger culminating in superbly thrashy second-half leadwork.
Finally, Day One, where I love the compelling mix of groove and punch alongside slick direction switching. It’s such a hugely addictive listen.
I definitely recommend giving System Of The Animal 25 a listen especially fans of the likes of Dying Fetus, Aborted and Suffocation, or anyone who likes their Metal BRUTAL!