It seems like Blackout have been teasing Pythius’ latest EP, Upheaval, for months now. It’s the first solo multi-track release he’s done since 2018’s Descend LP, unless you count the remix EPs he, Blackout and friends pulled off the original EP. Pythius has been doing a lot of collabs and one-off tracks for Blackout, Eatbrain and Bad Taste but Upheaval is his first dedicated solo EP in almost two years. Not surprisingly, it was worth the wait.
If there’s one thing Pythius is known for among producers, it’s how technically clean his sound design is and Upheaval is no exception. Artists should be prepared to be blown away and to spend the remainder of the quarantine studying how he pulled off the balance and precision of each track. Get ready for lots of remixes.
Focusing on the current original EP, Pythius’s characteristic rolling beats move each track along and help to tell the story of the synths, which are lush, heavy and melodic. The opening track is a collab with Black Sun Empire (leading to the April Fool’s joke last week that Pythius had, in fact, joined BSE) called “Kepler” which will remind fans of both mid-00s BSE and Pythius, with those synths driving the track and making it sound quite steppy.
“Auxiliary” is less synth-based, or that is to say the bass synths blend in more with the track as a whole rather than leading it. This, along with lots of amens, gives the track a really rich sound and a base from which Pythius can drop seemingly random higher synth melodies that seem almost ambient, despite being hard and heavy.
The penultimate track, a collab with Redpill called “Watch Me” showcases Pythius’s love of metal as well as Redpill’s guitar prowess in a surprising flex that takes the melody from said guitars and mashes it into a hard drum & bass format. It’s every metal/D&B head’s dream come true and settles the argument once and for all about whether guitar metal and drum & bass can go together. The guitar track doesn’t just cruise on top of the track or add ornamentation, it actually lives in the track and is put together with the synths so it’s truly part of the sound design just as much as any other element.
Blackout quietly released “Dathomir,” the EP’s closing track, on Saturday. It’s sort of a culmination of everything Pythius did on the other three songs, mashed together. There are elements of metal drumming in the intro, crunchy, throwback synths on the main staff and some ravey higher-register melodies that tie the whole thing together. All the tracks on the EP are dancefloor (or should we say livestream) bangers but it’s likely “Dathomir” that will really get huge crowds amped, even if it’s from their living rooms.
In the strange times we live in, it seems every hard D&B track that comes out is an anthem of said times. Perhaps that’s true but the tracks in Upheaval could sincerely lead the charge through and out of the live D&B desert in which we find ourselves currently. The melodies don’t just carry the mark of these dark and odd times, but there’s a sense of hope and strength as well, especially in “Dathomir.” After all, it’s only through Upheaval that real change can come.