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The Convocation of…
Pyramid Technology, the latest from Baltimore trio the Convocation of…, is the sound of hardcore getting old. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The building materials are the same as they’ve always been: distortion, density, and barking vocals. For the most part, however, the speed is gone, replaced by a lumbering hard-rock groove given life by bassist Guy Blakeslee’s modal low end and drummer George France’s blocky beats. But things get really unpunk when vocalist-guitarist Tonie Joy—who’s been in gazillions of lore-worthy hardcore bands—starts baking brains with his slippery psychedelic riffs. The beautifully druggy “Walk Like a Panther” begins with Joy’s foot all the way down on the wah pedal, and Blakeslee and France laying out some sturdy tribal rhythms. “Some people seen fit to try and burn their city down,” Joy laments. “Fed up, they felt they had no way out and nothing left to loose/The Man would probably eventually just implode it.” The ominous and spacey “The Time Portal” spreads a thick sheet of Ummagumma organ chords beneath Joy’s loopy guitar heroics and aching, almost-cracking vocals: “But it marks this time/Add another year to this life.” And the album closer, “Unlimited Outer Thought Broadcast,” dispenses with vox altogether to focus on slow ‘n’ creepy Goblinesque jamming. But it’s “Recognize,” the disc’s stressed-out centerpiece, that does the best job of making the old new again. Set against cocksure lyrics that read like Jay-Z (“It’s the ax to the grindstone again and again so you motherfuckers recognize this shit”) and a two-note Gang of Four-style bass line, the song’s hoary electric-blues squawk is just another element in a weird, time-spanning patchwork. Unlike the relatively static “Face to Face With the Beast” and “Ramblin’,” whose dynamic shifts seem forced, “Recognize” starts sparse and explodes organically, with Joy’s streams of dope-smokin’ guitar wank culminating in a swell of signal-drenched hippie aggression. Reelin’ in the years rarely works so well. —Brent Burton