Pyrexia: Sermon of mockery
05/03/12 || lou.imm0rtal
It is widely known that the early 1990s were some of the most active and innovative years of brutal death metal as each region had its own school of thought and thus they began to develop their interpretations of what death metal sounds like while carrying on the traditions set before them of extreme metal music. In the beginning, there are always a bunch of young fellas gathering around and jamming… sometimes the jams turn into serious monuments of music and other times it was just fuck-all-we-are-just-jamming type fun. So, let us go back to the year of “uncreation,” the place New York, the year 1990, and some dudes (Mortuary and Suffocation dudes) got together to jam in some hideous place or another. A year later these fellas put out a little self-titled demo tape just to get things flowing in the public arena but it was not until 1992 that they had finally gathered up a solid line up and formulated what came to be the “Liturgy of Impurity” demo. Now this demo, aside from having back to back hard hitting and uber classic tunes, carries one of the most lethal NY death metal songs ever written which probably set off an entire chain of explosions amongst the underground community of death metal in New York at the time—the song called “Infernal Ascension”. In my opinion, the song was so bad ass at the time that it remained exclusive to the demo as to allow that demo to have a differentiating factor of value compared to the mighty “Sermon of Mockery” LP in 1993. The first three songs were re-recorded for the full length and this is where I shall begin to speak about this monster known as “Sermon of Mockery”.
10. The years between 1990 & 1993 were very special years indeed for New York Death Metal. In 1991, Suffocation had unleashed its first debut LP, “Effigy of the Forgotten”, which brought upon the apocalypse of American death metal as we know it. Fans and musicians alike from all corners of the States (and the World) were crushed by what Suffocation had created. This was something so new and so ground-breaking that it caught everyone by storm. The same can be said about Pyrexia’s “Sermon of Mockery”. Unfortunately, the shadow of dominance which was brought upon by the mighty Suffocation consumed most of the publicity for the record to ascend to the throne in which it righteously deserves. Regardless, I would be a fool to say that the record fell into the abyss without its due recognition. As it matter of fact, this record is cherished and loved by many around the world and it is considered a true pillar of death metal history which to this day withstands the test of time again and yet again. On a side-note, there have been idiots out there that claim this record is an “Effigy of the Forgotten” worship record. I say, let us be big boys now and set a fair judgment on the playground; both bands were interpreting their own styles of death metal. It just so happens that all of these guys are friends and jammed a lot together.
7. I have always enjoyed the natural sounding productions that were being generated in this era of death metal (Sinister’s “Cross the Styx” is fucken banana nuts!). It was not easy for bands to be able to produce their music, yet alone afford god production as it is in these modern times where anybody can record an entire record with ease through the use of compacted digital technology. Records like this one were recorded the old way and that was not easy. The tape recording technology of this era demanded that you were well versed in your own music and were ready to record since there was no leisure of easily pressing the “delete” button on the computer keyboard to start all over again. Ultimately, this production is monstrous with a very warm tone throughout. For having mixed the record themselves, you can easily hear every instrument in action and even though some instruments may be higher than others, the end result is a brutally satisfying one. One debate which took place recently with a crony of mine was if this record was mastered at all. Now, I would assume that the record was indeed mastered since it was recorded at a high-end studio where many popular acts have recorded their material but my crony, who is an audio producer himself, states that the final levels are too low for it having been mastered and if it was mastered, he claims that the band should sue the studio. Anyhow, I would stand my ground and say that the production of this record crushes the fuck out of the majority of the overtly produced spineless garbage that is getting pumped out by the whoreloads these days.
8. If you are a fan of New York death metal then you would have an idea of what to expect. To bluntly state it, the guitars crush as they deliver endless groove drenched morbidity and the cleverly placed pit-riffs that sends the savages into a beastly frenzy. This record makes its contrast with the Suffocation debut where as is not as technical but maintains a simplistic approach that is both effective yet ultra catchy with great hooks and patterns. You can tell that a lot of thought and time was dedicated to the riff-smithing and this is something to be honored since most bands these days put little effort in taking the time to write special songs. That is certainly not the case here. These songs are all special and carry through with the elements that make New York Death Metal what it is. The guitar tone is powerful with much expression that sets the mood of the record instantly. It is a real treat for those that love the brutal riff-smithing. An interesting fact is that most of these songs are really re-molded riffs that were originally written during the Mortuary (1986-1990) days. Mortuary consisted of Mike Smith, Terrence Hobbs, Doug Cerrito, and Chris Basile. The first three fellas would later go on to join Suffocation whom at the time was Frank Mullen, Guy Marchais, and a few other fellas that faded into obscurity. All in all, about 25 songs were written during the Mortuary days and most of the songs were re-molded for Suffocation’s “Effigy of the Forgotten” and Chris Basile took some of these riffs as well to re-mold for “Sermon of Mockery”. In essence, “Sermon of Mockery” and “Effigy of the Forgotten” are sort of like blood brothers in the sense that those songs were all written by the same fellas who very well jammed together. Perhaps this is a reason why this album is considered an Effigy… worship record. Also, some of the material from the Mortuary days went on to appear in Pyrexia’s “Hatred, Anger, and Disgust” EP.
10. One of the major accomplishments that truly stand out in this recording is the vocals. At the time there were not many who were taking what death metal vocals sound like to any unique heights that can be identified as original but there existed many great vocalists anyhow. What must be said of Darryl Wagner and a select few like him is that they had develop a sound that only pertained to them as death metal vocalists, and if you were to hear a song with them on vocals, you could instantly point out who it was unlike many of the rest, who were in no doubt talented, but could easily be placed onto a category of similar-sounding vocalists. Darryl Wagner had a real morbid voice but not in the traditional sense of early 90’s death metal, instead he delivered a real powerful performance with clever vocal patterns and a depth of tone so profound with its unique sense of character. With this being said, the vocals could probably be considered “ahead of their time” and very impressive for the time of death metal history in which they were conceived.
8. Chris Basile was the man recruited to handle the low-end frequencies after the 1991 self-titled demo. He made his debut with Pyrexia in the “Liturgy of Impurity” demo in 1992 and to this day, he is the last original member left in the band—he is currently preparing to unleash a new Pyrexia record through Unique Leader Records in 2012. One of the qualities of this production is that the instruments are so nicely weaved together in the mix that each musician got their fair share of exposure. The bass is heard clearly riding along the low-frequencies of the beasty guitars that bring the motherfucken death. If my listening are as good as I think, then the bass performance is outstanding by carrying the heavy bottom end of the guitars to not fall short with their uber low-tuned morbidity of “concentrated evil.”
7. I do not know whatever became of Mike Adrejko after his sting on drums with Pyrexia during this time and very little is known if he worked on any other projects except this record. I think that most of us can agree on the simple fact that a drummer can either make or break a band. Especially when it is time record your tunes, your drummer better be in the best shape and ready to pound out those tunes or else your entire agenda will go down the shithole. Drum production is probably one of the most difficult parts of any recording session but the drum production on this record sounds really good for being such an early death metal release. The atmosphere they create is similar to that of the drum production in Morbid Angel’s “Covenant”, where you could almost smell the room in which they were recorded. One negative aspect that could be criticized about the drum is that they can be overpowering in the mix and toppling over the rest of instruments while everything else sounds as if it is behind the drums. Overall, the drums carry a very natural sound which in my book is a damn good thing to look forward to about this record.
9. I love these lyrics and I am certain that many who appreciate this record as I do feel the same way. The lyrical themes consist of a variety of topics but they all remain true to an anti-Christian dogma center of focus. The lyrics range from the questioning of the faith to mythical invocations of unholy spiritualism. I personally believe that they are well written with a concise idea embedded in each and do not fail to deliver a prolific set of imagery that beautifully compliments the vocal and musical onslaught.
6. I personally think that this record deserves a proper re-mastering with an entire revamping of the layout, especially the cover art. At the time when this record was made there were some incredible artists that could have interpreted a masterful piece of art to represent the record. I am not saying that the art is all bad but it is definitely not up to par with some of its other counter parts of death metal that were release in this era. The artwork is good and it is incredibly blasphemous but it lacks the treatment that could have been delivered by a more prolific and skillful artist. Overall, the artwork does carry through and it does the job. I still think that someone should pick up the rights to this record and work a deal with the band to re-unleash this record onto the masses with the true glory that it deserves. I am sure that the master of this record still exists so it would be a great endeavor to have the entire record remixed, re-mastered, and re-introduced into the death metal community.
10. The Pyrexia logo is bad ass. It’s got a real barbaric feel to it that truly reflects the music of this production. Death Metal is a savage form of music and with that you must also have the right banner to represent the music to the world. A logo is probably initially one of the most important aspects of a band and it can be critical to the success of a band, especially when it comes to merchandising. Nobody wants to walk around sporting a half-assed logo. It should be a sign of pride and admiration for both the band and the fans alike.
5. As I mentioned previously, the record truly deserves an overhaul. The booklet could benefit greatly from someone with a more prolific and detailed vision to present to the fans. It is a very standard booklet with all the information a fan needs about the record. I believe this record to be a pillar of death metal history in anyone’s collection so it should serve as a monument of the sort to be presented in a much mightier form than its original self.
Overall and ending rant
This record remains a prime example of what New York Death Metal is all about! Due to the orchestration that makes up the record, the heavy dose of “fuck you” attitude, and the free will of expression are supreme throughout every song from beginning to start. It is this sense of freedom contained in records like these that have set the standard for future young blood to challenge and to learn from so that they too may create an interpretation of their own. Most importantly, one of realized that a lot of these riffs were created during the very early days of death metal—1986-1990. In the words of Chris Pervelis (Internal Bleeding), “Sermon of Mockery is a heavy and completely brutal cornerstone of NYDM—that’s all a given and most everyone knows that. However, that album, and I think most people don’t necessarily appreciate this, is probably one of the darkest, most evil sounding records to ever have been recorded. Every riff is pure concentrated evil and the vocals? Forget it. Darryl Wagner, plain and simple, is Satan incarnate. Just put the title track up against any band who claims they are the most evil and they will wilt in the onslaught of that song.”
- Released: 1993
- Label: Drowned Productions (Spain, 1993) Later: Pathos Productions (USA, 1999)
- Website: Pyrexia MySpace
- Darryl Wagner: vocals
- Guy Marchais: guitars
- Tony Caravella: guitars
- Chris Basile: bass
- Mike Andrejko: drums
- 01. Sermon of Mockery
- 02. Resurrection
- 03. Abominat
- 04. The Uncreation
- 05. God
- 06. Demigod
- 07. Inhumanity
- 08. Liturgy of Impurity