Putrescine/Kosmogyr – Desolate Tides [Split] Review

Desolate Tides should not make sense. The concept of the split record is one born of shared musical ideals, a joint undertaking made with inherent crossover appeal in mind. The pairing of the melting pot of OSDM worship that is California’s Putrescine, and the modern melodic black metal of international duo Kosmogyr, doesn’t exactly scream “crossover appeal” on paper. While the two acts don’t find a firm sonic middle ground within Desolate Tides, each uses this record to explore the boundaries of their respective sounds in a way that feels thematically aligned with the other. The resulting experience is one of the most intriguing split releases I’ve heard.

It should be noted that Putrescine still sounds like Putrescine, and Kosmogyr still sounds like Kosmogyr. The former’s approximate blend of Morbid Angel and Timeghoul, and the latter’s marriage of second wave intensity and blackgaze trappings, remain ever identifiable. Yet Putrescine’s latent prog/death elements are brought more to the forefront on Desolate Tides than ever. There are moments within Putrescine’s half that recall the disorienting cosmic tailspins of Cosmic Putrefaction (“The Accursed”) and Demilich’s distinct loopy grooves (“Seeing the Unknown”), and in general, Putrescine’s tracks are longer and more complex than their prior works. Kosmogyr, conversely, often devotes their half to making some of their most traditionally beautiful compositions to date. “Eschaton” bathes in a beautiful, autumnal blackgaze glow, while “Rise Towards God” closes out the record with joyful, nostalgic guitar lines that recall Astronoid at their peak. Both bands engage with sounds new to themselves at every turn, making Desolate Tides wonderfully varied, as well as essential listening in each artist’s discography.

Each band’s half comprises three songs, and each half follows a similar trajectory of intensity, deepening their thematic bond. While the first and last songs of each section are notably more adventurous, the middle entries, Putrescine’s “Secrets Beckon Sweetly” and Kosmogyr’s “Ring,” play closer to the bands’ roots. The former is Desolate Tides’ most straightforward ripper, replete with whiplashing tangents into blastbeat territory, while the scathing riffs of the latter echo the death metal overtones of Kosmogyr’s debut record, Eviternity. Admittedly, I also find these songs to be the record’s weakest cuts overall, and I probably would have been happier with more ambitious tracks in their place. Even so, within the greater context of Desolate Tides, these tracks effectively enliven the record’s structure.

Production-wise, I find Desolate Tides to be a small step up for Putrescine, and a slight downgrade for Kosmogyr. Putrescine sounded charmingly amateurish in their early days, yet has gradually shed their DIY aesthetic over several EPs (and last year’s LP). Here, they come closer than ever to sounding like they are ready for the big leagues, with a full, oppressive soundscape that sounds at once cavernous and cosmic. Kosmogyr, meanwhile, sounds almost as good here as they did on Eviternity, but the mix sounds just a bit muddier, dampening its impact. The performances remain universally great, and there are too many members between these bands to hand out comprehensive commendations, but I’d like to give special mention to Putrescine’s guitarists, Trevor Van Hook and Zachary Sanders. I had found the band’s guitar presence to be occasionally choppy on past releases, but this is a non-issue on Desolate Tides, as the record’s more technically demanding material is performed virtually flawlessly.

If you held a gun to my head and asked me to choose a favorite half of this LP at gunpoint, I would simply choose the bullet. Putrescine and Kosmogyr prove to be an excellent match in regards to their handle on their respective genres. Yet the bond between the two on Desolate Tides transcends quality. It may not be the overall best release of either Putrescine or Kosmogyr, but Desolate Tides reveals each band operating at their peak when trying something a little different. Because of this, I wholeheartedly commend its vibrant, adventurous heart.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 [Putrescine Side]; 5 [Kosmogyr Side] | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self Released
Websites: reek-of-putrescine.bandcamp.com | kosmogyr.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: September 23rd, 2022

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