Label: Vargheist Records
Genre: Technical Death Metal / Grindcore / Avant-Garde / Progressive Metal
Release Date: March 23rd, 2019
Tryptamyne is a unique band, and these four songs, some shorter than others, are beyond the term weird. This group is an answer to a question I’m fairly sure no one asked; what would happen if a Technical Death Metal / Grindcore band got together with an Avant-Garde Progressive Metal band, did a metric ton of acid, and drank a bunch of mushroom smoothies? This is a coming together of several different styles that usually remain separate, but are blended sometimes to a very interesting effect. This marks the inaugural release for both Vargheist Records and Tryptamyne, and there is a lot to unpack in this release.
Tryptamyne is made up of Mikey Pruzensky on bass, guitars, and backing vocals, Brad Dodd on drums, lead and backing vocals, Sarah Richardson on backing vocals, and Aika Zabala on lead and backing vocals. So though this group is only four people, it has the appearance of “too many cooks in the kitchen” in the vocal department and yet that isn’t the case at all. The vocals are well-balanced between the harsh and the clean singing; a low growl that wouldn’t be out of place on any Tech-Death release and a high scream from the Grindcore influence make up the harsh, while the clean singing is primarily by the female vocalists and range from pitch-perfect Prog / Psychedelia to intentionally grating wails or off notes. The music is suitably bonkers as well, steeped in experimentation but firmly rooted in established sounds; Prog / Psychedelia make up a large portion of this release, reminiscent of the ’70s through modern day Prog Metal acts, and the Tech Death / Grindcore sections can stand up against their contemporaries as well.
On the first song, Supplicants, the band roar right into an aggressive blasting of Tech Death mayhem before crashing into an Avant-Garde Jazz section with a speed that is quite jarring, and I’m sure that is the point; the sudden and unexpected transition reminded me instantly of the band White Ward in execution. Heteroskedasticity immediately follows, and is similarly short; with an intense but simple drumming intro and an off-kilter light guitar picking, the song blasts into Tech Death and boasts some blood-curdling screams. The last two songs are titled Learn and Unlearn, which is perfect since the second is definitely an answer to the first. The back half of this release moves into a brand new territory very quickly with the opening of Learn; this song is clearly more in the Avant-Garde / Prog vein with clean singing dominating backed by much softer and bass-heavy music. Unlearn crashes in with angular Technical riffing and Grindcore screaming; Tryptamyne is letting you know you’ve gone through the mirror now, and there is no looking back. The rest of Unlearn strikes a balance between its different styles and influences which feel at odds with each other earlier in the album; one style will seamlessly blend into the next, or overlap in an organic way.
This self-titled release is only four tracks, and very short, yet deceptively full of ideas; this album is full of experimentation, subverting your expectations at every turn, and like with most experimentation, it yields mixed results. Some of the off notes I mentioned in the singing are very difficult to listen to, however, after absorbing the whole I find it quite easy to forgive the missteps. Unlearn is the best song on the album by far, but works better in the context of the songs that precede it, building to it. This is a challenging listen but ultimately a worthy one; Tryptamyne tried something here and that in itself is admirable, but what borders on wondrous is that it is actually really good. Vargheist opens their gates with an impressive release that left me hungry for more.
Total Playing Time: 12:59Click here to visit Tryptamyne on Vargheist Record’s Bandcamp