I frequently complain about black metal these days. Partially this is because I think that a lot of post-black metal is fucking boring and partially ’cause the not-post-black metal is also fucking boring. In general, black metal is in a place where nothing really that interesting is going on. Sure, there are bands out there that are putting out good material, but for the most part the signed stuff is so-so and the classic bands are disappointing with new material and the state of the scene, in my opinion, is pretty sad. So I was pleasantly surprised to get turned onto this piece of art by the Californian do-it-yourselfer just called “T”. The project is called Petrychor and displays all of the things that I would hope to hear out of this budding scene sort of embodied in a single 3 song EP entitled Dryad.
There are two sides to this project melded into a single overarching concept, from what I can tell. The first, the piece that opens this record, is the epic and beautifully played steel string acoustic playing with a sound that deftly matches the old growth forest on the front cover of Dryad. A sound that is clean and fresh, but steeped in mystery and subtlety. The second side of Dryad is one of atmospheric, heavy but still crisply melodic black metal. Due to the production the music moves in waves, rather than any kind of technical precision that you see in other metal genres. The guitars, drums, bass and keyboards work together to build massive, epic walls of sound that flow smoothly while still being thick and forceful.
Of any band, I’d still say that Petrychor reminds me of early Ulver more than anything else that I really listen to. It has the same appreciation for beauty, the same intellectual acuity and the same dark core that drive me back to listen to Bergtatt, Kveldssanger, and Nattens Madrigal over and over. However, unlike other bands, most notably Agalloch, who have followed in the footsteps of the early Ulver work, this material is not derivative at all. “T” demonstrates a willingness to wander from the herd and to write a unique and, frankly, oddly catchy style of black metal that I’ve never really heard before. This individual is an excellent guitar player and writes solid melodic solos and the use of drum machine, particularly in the middle of the track “Gamma Leonis” indicates to me that T really doesn’t give a shit what the “trve” or “kvlt” types think.
I look forward to seeing what more Petrychor has to offer. It’s been a long time since any underground work has moved me to such exclamations and that’s the reason that I decided to write this review without any request for promo. This album is free for anyone to download at the project’s BandCamp profile (linked above) and I strongly suggest you go and download it and give a listen. And it’s definitely worth throwing 5 bucks at, I think. My only complaint is that there are no lyrics included anywhere for my perusal, but this is well worth the price of admission and your time.