Geryon is a duo consisting of bassist/vocalist Nicholas McMaster and drummer Lev Weinstein, whom you may recognize as the rhythm section behind USBM heavyweights Krallice. But while their main gig sees them creating the backbone for guitarists Colin Marston and Mick Barr’s crystalline caverns of black metal riffage, Geryon is crushing death metal of a most mind-bending variety with nary a guitar in sight. With only a bare-bones setup of bass, drums and vocals, McMaster and Weinstein craft oldschool DM so compelling that you won’t miss the ol’ six-string in the slightest.
More than anything, the music here evokes Steve Tucker-era Morbid Angel, specifically the underrated Gateways to Annihilation. While I have no idea if that album was actually an influence, it has a weird, dreamy quality to it that makes the songs seem like they’re going fast and slow at the same time, and very much the same can be said for Geryon tracks such as devastating opener “De Profundis,” as well as the closing dying man’s crawl of “To Those Grown Silent.” It’s the musical equivalent of Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle, perhaps a soundtrack for the horrific, creeping doom that came to the once mighty Sarnath.
Both musicians put in killer performances, but what really wows me here is how intricate and expressive McMaster’s bass playing is. I never for a minute doubted the man’s musicianship, but Geryon really gives him the opportunity to stretch out and take the spotlight as he coaxes spidery, nightmarishly atmospheric riffs from his instrument. This leaves Weinstein to provide the record’s bulldozing heft, which he does with an impressive display of octopus-armed endurance. His drums rarely let up, battering away relentlessly while the bass and vocals swirl like restless spirits. It’s clear from the get-go that their time spent together in Krallice has created an otherworldly chemistry between these two musicians that’s in full effect on Geryon.
My only complaint with this album is that it’s far too brief at just twenty-six minutes; the songs are immersive enough that Geryon could’ve easily loaded the record with twice as much material without any problems maintaining their momentum. It’s a unique approach to death metal that brings something new to the table yet still honors tradition and never degenerates into novelty in spite of the willfully unconventional set-up. An undoubtedly lavish physical release will be available from vinyl-porn kingpins Gilead Media in the coming months, but in the meantime you can stream and download this beast in full over at Geryon’s Bandcamp page. Get into it.