Their debut album was widely hailed as a strong contribution to the post-SUFFOCATION world of all-out brutality, and PYREXIA has been a name that commands respect and admiration ever since. Even on their late ’90s experiments, wherein they embraced groove and slower tempos, they sounded considerably more ferocious than most. The course of death metal runs rocky and wild, of course, and only guitarist (and former bassist) Chris Basile remains from the lineup that made 1993’s seminal “Sermon of Mockery”. But as with 2018’s “Unholy Requiem” — the first PYREXIA record to feature guitarist Danny Trapani, bassist Shaun Kennedy and vocalist Jim Beach — the New Yorkers’ sixth full-length is audibly dedicated to the same ethos of total destruction that drove earlier incarnations of the band. Whatever it was that made PYREXIA such an important band first time around is still in abundance here, and with the added advantage of a production that fully matches the viciousness of the material.

Opener “We Are Many” hurls down the gauntlet to all comers, oozing on a doleful doom riff before erupting into the first of many cudgeling, high-velocity assaults. PYREXIA write riffs the old-school way for the most part, but there are regular glimpses of blackened dissonance and slam-friendly thuggery bursting out from the crusty melee, too. “Apostles to the Grave” uses sudden tempo shifts and ugly, atonal churn to hammer home its nihilistic point. The title track sounds custom-designed to cause circle-pit chaos, its debt to the dark side of thrash as unmistakable as the outright hostility of Beach‘s gargled threats. “Pawn to the King” is a jolting, unrepentant dose of brutal death evangelism. Even at a slower tempo, as on the tank-crawl battery of “The Day the Earth Shook (Survival of the Fittest)”, PYREXIA connect with pure, muscular force. On the trigger-happy firestorm of “Art of Infamy”, they sound fully in league with malevolent forces and drunk on the twisted chugging power of the street-dwelling old school. The closing “Bludgeoned by Deformity” simply reinforces the point that this band are still standard bearers for this kind of streamlined and fat-free musical violence. There are more imaginative bands out there, but sometimes all anyone really needs is a sledgehammer to the face.