Geryon Find the Wounds Among Their Bows

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Edmund Wilson’s The Wound and the Bow takes its title from Sophocles’ telling of the Greek hero Philoctetes. As summarized  by Geryon bassist and vocalist Nick McMaster,

Philoctetes is from Homer; he’s the best archer the Greeks have (having been given a bow that never misses by Hercules) but he suffers a snakebite on the way to Troy that leaves a permanent, festering wound, which smells so bad the Greeks abandon him on an island (though they come back for him years later when they realize they need his skill to win the war).

Wilson’s essay uses the dual nature of Philoctetes–talented but maimed–to posit a general link between psychological trauma and creativity, suggesting this is a common type throughout human history. It is in this sense that we use the title: The Wound And The Bow, two sides of the same coin, humanity as the vessel which transmutes suffering into art.

Geryon, a duo comprised of McMaster and drummer Lev Weinstein (both current members of Krallice and formerly of Astomatous), could not have picked a more apt work around which to base their sophomore album. Geryon are an immensely talented duo at their core, yet The Wound and the Bow is far from a perfect album.

In Krallice, Weinstein and McMaster back up with Colin Marston and Mick Barr’s guitars with ceaseless blasts and churning basslines. On The Wound and the Bow, they tread familiar waters, to their detriment. The duo’s playing styles are perfectly suited to a rhythm section, where McMaster can leave space between the notes that will be filled by tremolo picking and unending blast beats, but on their own they miss a crucial element. The presence of guitars is not missed, as the space is filled by McMaster’s ringing notes played high on the neck. The missing piece is simply the sense of compositional urgency conveyed by their work in Krallice. Quite frankly, many of the songs are just not particularly exciting.

Geryon perform best in extremes: standout tracks like “Dioscuri” and “Legion” work so well because the duo embrace shifting riffs based on more complex rhythmic figures, whereas “Lys” is made all the more effective by its droning main riff. Unfortunately, several other songs simply inhabit a middle ground, never quite going all the way in either direction.

Of course, the album is not without its merits. When Geryon play to their strengths, as on the aforementioned “Dioscuri,” they prove themselves capable of crafting memorable, singular death metal. Both players deliver technically astounding performances throughout the album, and Weinstein’s precision and stamina are particularly deserving of praise. Their idiosyncratic approach to writing semi-technical death metal is wholly unique to them and their vision uncompromising. All Geryon really need is an editor; this album’s strongest material easily stacks up against its predecessor, and if this album were trimmed slightly to focus on those songs it could stand tall next to anything else the duo has created in any number of groups.

3.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

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The Wound and the Bow is out now on Profound Lore.

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