Petrale - Salvation Precipitates (Self-released)

Spring, in all its rejuvenescent glory, stands as the most celebrated of the four seasons. Her curling streams and blooming branches have been immortalized by classical, folk, and ambient artists alike. Still, there’s some unsettling charm to how purveyors of black metal (BM) hold to the conviction that even the loveliest roses bear thorns. With only one exception these past seven years, Petrale has chosen Spring as the season to unleash his personal hell on the metal subculture. Hailing from the shores of Croatia, the one-man menace has kept to a laudable one-record-per-year resolution, turning babbling brooks to infernal swells on the way. Aligned in purpose with the foreboding schemes of Bestial Devotion (Negative Plane, Funereal Presence), Petrale joins a daring quest to reimagine the genre from before its formative expansion in Norway. Never shying away from descending, hallucinatory guitar flourishes, the artist borrows flavors from Mystiskaos’ spacious orchard and jazzes them up with unmistakable fury. His BM’s coarse sound belies an obscure, almost primordial intentionality, coming and going with schizophrenic variations in pace. Imagine the ingredients of Without Veil, Nor Self dissolved into Primeval Well’s Americana-tinged bedlam to get an idea what this demonic jukebox holds in store.

With his seventh offering, Salvation Precipitates, Petrale delves even further into the uncharted. After the ineffable fever dream of M.M. and funk-laced brutality of Vrh, Salvation Precipitates shows the artist at his most cinematic. Edging out the eerie mid-range shrieks, astounding guitar prowess, and some of his most compelling drum fills to date, the thumping bass work takes the lead role in Petrale’s subdivine tragedy. Bouncing step by step through the record’s nebulous narrative, our fretted protagonist takes part in Latin rhythm sections one moment and chord progressions resembling Japanese folk-rock the next. “The Silent Owl” draws upon each of these influences to animate one entrancing melodrama of a rural avalon on the verge of obliteration. The journey climaxes with the closing track’s suffocating dissonance, swept away by a whirlwind of tremolos that breathes life into languished lungs. “Not everything that comes from the heavens brings salvation,” though, “Especially when the abyss is empty.” Let these be the lines that invite you to Petrale’s unholy banquet, where you’ll raise your toast to another seven years of plenty!