Album Of The Week: II by Petrichor
There’s something intrinsically portentous about the new record by hard rock band Petrichor, something that rises far above their dismal, occultive aesthetic. It stuns, but not in the way calamity and destruction stuns. It emanates, in a way that’s neither preternatural nor fictional. It resonates, far above your everyday despair and desolation. And it astonishes, truly astonishes in a way that few bands of their caliber still do today. II is a recording achievement in a town known for its harder approach to rock, cutting through the metal and punk scenes with something compelling, sensational, thrilling, and truly magnificent.
Directing the success of this record is the voice of frontwoman Tess Fisher, who yields her aural power beyond the fictional siren and unproven seers, and more like a musical sage, one sought after for their wisdom, talent, and prudence. That prudence plays a big part of this record’s success, as Fisher doesn’t just go into each song with fiery notes and a bellowing howl. It’s reserved, or as reserved as something that powerful can be, ardently adherent to the thundering music behind her that’s building the perfect musical constructs upon which to soar and quake.
And while Fisher directs that thunder expertly, it’s still born of a place filled with vibrant expertise, landing on the sonic wheel in a space adjacent to the nascency of witch rock when progressive and psychedelica tendencies were discovering the lower end of guitars and pushing songs far past their accepted runtime. The instruments’ ability to lock-step as they contort and disrupt a sonic terrain laid before them is continually staggering on the record, and as they veer off from each other at times, you’re gifted the full range of prowess from the band, whether it’s Harrison Christy’s pummeling percussion, Eric Claytor’s bashing bass, or Jon Ramsey’s gnawing guitar.
Towering above the record is the opening track, “Saint Francis Satyr,” which casts a looming shadow under which the remaining eight tracks frolic and devastate. There are plenty of other songs that will equally rattle and inspire your spirit – from closing track “Charon’s Obol” to the piercing surge of “My Swollen Voice” – but none seem to clear the diffusive shadow of “Satyr,” with its stunning theatrics and enticing liturgy. Though only January, it’s hard to imagine a best of 2019 song list that doesn’t prominently feature “Saint Francis Satyr,” as well as a hundred or so words extolling its imposing sovereignty
For longtime fans of darker rock, you’ll no doubt recognize the cover of Misfits’ song “Hybrid Moments,” originally off of the 1985 compilation album Legacy Of Brutality, but intended for the 1978 record Static Age. Twisting the tempo of a punk sound for an intended effect is nothing new, but there’s something proper about the classic horror-punk band being molded to further along a doom rock record, and this song does exactly that, giving the band plenty of space to relish in their influence and talent as well as continue to infuse the dark ambience of the record.
Also worth spotlighting is the band’s acoustic offering, the penultimate track on the record “Blue State Line,” which strips away the band’s revelry and debauchery allowing their talent and, most importantly, appeal to really shine through as the music relays a timeless sway and Fisher unloads a singular voice.
It’s that song which exposes the band’s true achievement, rising above doom in order to cast a wide net of listeners. This isn’t niche rock, something you find through genre dissection and rabbit hole wandering. This is dramatic, rhapsodic rock music that demands an audience, even if it does come from a place of doom and despair. But instead of instigating or lamenting, the band relishes and polishes it, making their sound accessible, their message boundless, and their talent certifiably breathtaking.