PRY - “Nodus Tollens”
Nodus Tollens is an eye-catcher of a title: a semi-gibberish, Latinate term that refers to “the realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore,”* it seems to promise something a little risky from the up-and-coming Connecticut deathcore outfit, especially set against that ominous depiction of domestic violence on the cover of the EP. It’s disappointing to see just how wide the disconnect is between the presentation and the content.
Nodus Tollens begins with a distorted sample of something vaguely nihilistic—too many humans, and all that. It’s meant to set an oppressive mood, but barring a few bright spots like the bass-break halfway through “Battered” and the vocal chemistry between Mike Jacques and I Am vocalist Andrew Hileman on “Spite,” Pry indulges just a little too much of the tired “murder-suicide”-core that’s all the rage with contemporaries like Traitors and Black Tongue. Even several listens deep, it’s tough to point to a track that stands above the others for any positive reason, since the verses and breakdowns (there are no real choruses in this style of music) are hardly distinguishable from the next, or even one another. “Cruel” is a misplaced interlude that is too brief to properly establish an atmosphere, propelled by incongruous, artificial rap-claps. “Dread” is the heaviest cut here, but you won’t notice after the monochrome pounding of the preceding cuts. It’s clear that Pry is a live band first and foremost, whose two modes—hardcore midtempo, and grindingly slow—are all but guaranteed to stir up a crowded room, but the energy and brute strength of their performances simply doesn’t translate on the recording.
Pry is still relatively new and talented under all the chuggery. There’s room for albums like Nodus Tollens. To really make it, Pry is going to have to take some cues from The Last Ten Seconds of Life, who they more than passingly resemble, and Black Tongue: they have got to reframe around their strongest aspects. Black Tongue buckled down to write longer and more intricate compositions for The Unconquerable Dark, an album so many leaps and bounds ahead of their previous work that it almost figures as a fresh start for what was once one of my least favorite bands. Soulless Hymns streamlines the awkward tempo changes of past outings to concentrate on their vocalist’s range and surprising lyrical dexterity. Neither band sacrifices their all-important brutality, only finds new ways to deliver it. If Pry can hone their crushing rhythmic sensibilities and learn to build toward their monstrous breakdowns, giving them purpose in the process, they have the potential to produce something truly worthwhile. Until then, it’s going to be hard to pick them out of the long, long line of their peers.
- Brian L.