Before they broke up last May, Agalloch were one of the most respected institutions in American underground metal. Over the course of five albums they established a reputation for making thoughtful, highly considered music that drew on the best of European black metal but carved out its own unique take on the genre. Their album releases were highly anticipated mini-events, ginning up giddy excitement despite a lack of touring or traditional publicity. So needless to say, we were all pretty bummed when Agalloch suffered a supremely messy break up that ended with the majority of the band splintering off to join members of Giant Squid in Khorada leaving lead singer John Haughm to stew in his juices. As it turns out, those juices are venomous.

Haughm's new band Pillorian, who also feature members of Uada, have released their first song via the good folks at Stereogum, and holy shit does it go hard. Haughm has joined the hallowed metal tradition of jilted band members forming new bands that make their old haunts look tame by comparison. "A Stygian Pyre" shares some melodic DNA with Agalloch, particularly in the slower back half of the tune, but has none of Agalloch's reserved air. Quite the contrary, this feels like Haughm's equivalent to Triptykon's "A Thousand Lies". The song is fast paced and unforgiving, building off a muscular low end that dwarfs anything Agalloch put out. Haughm himself has added an extra snarl to his voice, letting consonants curdle in his mouth longer and ending his phrases with extra vigor.

Nothing pleases me more than low stakes beef. No matter how much I'd like to pretend to be above, watching someone with a chip on their shoulder try and one-up their former coworkers excites me to no end. Pillorian may not be the next Megadeth, or even the next Triptykon, but the mantle of pettiness suits them well.

Pillorian's debut album Obsidian Arc comes out on 3/10 via Eisenwald.

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