It is entirely appropriate that we’re premiering the sophomore album from the Denton, Texas-based band Pyramids during our self-appointed Radiohead Week: Leaving aside the fact that their name is possibly (probably) a reference to Amnesiac’s “Pyramid Song,” no other “metal” band in the world has garnered more Radiohead comparisons. A Pitchfork review of Pyramids’ self-titled 2008 debut actually made two such references, unconnected to one another — first comparing the LP to “someone disemboweling a Radiohead record,” and later, saying a particular song sounds “like Thom Yorke fronting Pantera.” A PopMatters review of the same album notes that the opening track “will remind you of Jesu, but there are other tracks that sound far more like Radiohead.”
Those comparisons were apt in 2008, and they are still pretty applicable to Pyramids today, seven years later, as the band are set to release their sophomore album, A Northern Meadow. The most obvious similarity comes in the form of R. Loren and M. Kraig’s cathedral-interior vocal tones, which pinch and snarl and soar in ways that will absolutely remind you of Thom Yorke. But also like Radiohead, Pyramids make music that is primarily textural, almost ephemeral, seemingly without any rigid structure beneath its whirring, grinding, floating surfaces. That’s an illusion — this is experimental music, but it’s song-based stuff; it hovers and shimmers, but it’s heavy and solid.
Pyramids are, at their core, a quartet — R. Loren, M. Dean, M. Kraig, and D. William — although in the past they’ve collaborated with likeminded genre-agnostics such as Mammifer, Nadja, Jesu, and Cocteau Twins’ Simon Raymonde, among others. For A Northern Meadow, they moved from the great American indie label Hydra Head (RIP) to the great Canadian indie label Profound Lore, and they added three new members: Vindsval (of Blut Aus Nord), Colin Marston (of Krallice), and William Fowler Collins. There are some serious résumés attached to those names — most prominently in recent memory, Vindsval made the best metal album of 2014 — but those artists blend into Pyramids’ sound almost invisibly, giving the whole thing more motion and volume without altering its identity. It does a disservice to reduce A Northern Meadow to its reference points, and a further disservice to label it a “metal” album. This is music that rejects any sort of compartmentalization; it’s simply art: at points graceful, at points violent, very frequently both those things at once, and numerous others, too. We’ve got the album for you to stream in full today, a week prior to its official release, and I wholly encourage you to do just that.
A Northern Meadow is out 3/17 via Profound Lore.