Petrification – Sever Sacred Light (Svart Records)Monday, 5th February 2024
Certain spots in the world can be emblematic of the style that spews forth from its musicians. Many may not expect Portland, Oregon to possess an old school death metal style act with influences across the US/Finnish spectrum, yet that’s what you’ll hear from Petrification. Five years in the making, this second album Sever Sacred Light embraces the cold, dank mist and fog that can appear from this northwestern city – matching that environment to integrate dark riffs of death, doom, and punk origin, the tones and primal production values mirror the eight savage songs on display.
The foreboding nature to the material conveys a deep heaviness that appeared in a lot of the early death metal from the late 80’s and early 90’s – from acts like Autopsy and Bolt Thrower just as much from the Finnish development courtesy of Demigod or Rippikoulu. The main vocals of Jason Barnett conjure utter sorrow, pain, and despair in discernible, gruff growls – providing that extra level of emotional resonance next to the evil riffs of David Pruitt and WarVest during “Temporal Entrapment”. Labored doom parts switch to a jackhammer, Scandinavian crawl as wild whammy bar antics appear on mid-album highlight “Cadaverous Delirium”, the rhythm section passages penetrating in a militant march as semi-groove transitions push the numerous earworms into the aural landscape. The simplicity of specific guitar runs or streamlined double kick/snare movements allows the faster parts to penetrate deeper – these musicians never reach for a technical angle when the needs of the song serve other means. Distant effects, reverb, keyboard spots all get ample use (but not overuse), as the stars of the show remain the guitars, bass, drums, and death vocals. The cover art also is a sight to behold – picturesque with hundreds of images to pour through, analyze, and absorb.
Petrification pay homage to a time period that’s not necessarily referenced as often these days in the death metal landscape. Sever Sacred Light achieves a certain level of depravity, the brutality balanced by sick main hooks and solid songwriting that should easily embed itself into the underground hordes no matter where you come from.