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Albums of 2/9/24

Here are the most interesting releases of the week!

Petrification – Sever Sacred Light

Sever Sacred Light is the second full-length release from Portland band Petrification, released on Svart Records. The cover immediately lies to the listener, promising something psychedelic or at least tech or prog while the album actually delivers what the promotional material refers to as “the dark powers of death, doom, punk, and the occult.” The opening track further lowered my expectations as this album starts off with the most standard blend of death and doom that can be found. There is a lot of competition in this field, and Petrification does not start off strong.

However, it shouldn’t take any listener long to notice that Petrification play this brand of death metal with extreme competence. The transitions between song sections sound smooth as butter that has not yet gone rancid. The riffs, despite falling in the middle of death metal orthodoxy, work quite well and effectively add to the sinister sense of wrongness that Petrification try so hard to evoke. The production is solid. The songs provide enough variation despite never veering that far away from the sound of master influences such as Autopsy and Bolt Thrower that the band themselves outright state they’re honoring, and by the end of the record I’m simply looking for more.

Petrification prove that this style of death metal is a template for a reason. Sever Sacred Light does not advance the limits of death metal at all, and in fact adds to the massive weight dragging the entire genre towards a few homogenized sounds. But they do so with efficient songwriting and entertaining performances. Nobody who enjoys death metal will hate this release, and I can see quite a few people loving it.

Throat – Blood Exaltation

From Portland to Poland, Throat have ripped out a weird blend of styles that works more than it doesn’t. The album starts with some dissonant black metal in the vein of Serpent Column before re-releasing their earlier New Flesh Nectar demo as the second half of this EP. The result clashes, as that earlier demo had a raw black metal sound that the new tracks have moved away from. The release ends up showing a band aging in reverse, from a more formed identity with influences and strengths to something less coherent and more chaotic.

It helps that both halves of Blood Exaltation have solid writing. This release meanders a bit too much for a 30 minute EP, but when the tracks come into focus Throat give a blend of atmosphere and tone that allows their music to flourish, with hypnotic, swirling guitars giving way to a dirge of repetitive contemplation and shifting back again. This doesn’t sound like a fully-formed band yet, but rather a group that will have more transformation on their way to their future releases.

Gates Open – Voice After Silence

“Melodic death/thrash” from a band with no other previous releases and only two members. Uh-oh. This album, released on Inverse Records, has no right to be the entertaining, high energy rocker that it ends up as. The fuzzy guitars sound like they’re pulled out of a sludge or stoner doom album. But it works.

Sounding like Children Of Bodom after too much weed, Gates Open know how to create a big effect with a small shift. The bridges on this give life to the album, combined with fun riffing and continuous forward movement. I’m not going to call Voice After Silence a masterpiece, but I’d be happy to listen to it whenever. A fun, direct, no-frills release, there isn’t much to say about Gates Open other than they succeeded at making direct and aggressive music.