I have to admit, the sample that opens Rain, the debut album by Leeds-based doom trio Petrichor, had me worried. Following the sounds of rain and thunder comes an over-acted sample, that brings to mind the terrible voice acting in the early waves of English-dubbed anime releases. It’s not the best of starts to a record, but memories of it are soon dispelled as the album begins in earnest, offering 45 minutes of utterly miserable, nihilistic funeral-doom with a clear Peaceville-three influence, but also shades of something more. Black metal touches and moments reminiscent of Celtic Frost help Petrichor rise above the majority of other funeral doom bands, and makes for a captivating, addictive slice of misery.
There’s no denying that My Dying Bride are the chief point of comparison for Rain; or more specifically, My Dying Bride’s earlier work, where the emphasis was more on the metal aspects than experimentation. There’s a similar sense of weight and grit to many of the riffs, and some of the song structures – with heavier moments giving way to clean vocal passages, before the heaviness comes to the fore once more. Likewise, the clean vocals will feel to familiar who has ever hear Aaron Stainthorpe sing before. Don’t mistake this for a criticism though; even if Petrichor make no attempt to hide their influences, it doesn’t mean they’re in thrall to them. There’s enough distinguishing elements at play during Rain to ensure Petrichor have their own identity, such as the furious black metal influenced passage towards the end of “As The Dark Steals The Light”, or the triumphant feel to “We Are The Fire”. The opening to “This Too Must Die” even makes me think of The Cure at their most beautiful and miserable, though I can’t quite put my finger on why.
Whilst Rain might be an album heavy on the misery, it’s not all bleak and melancholy. As indicated earlier, “We Are The Fire” is a triumphant pagan metal song, not just in style but also in subject. Rallying against Christianity from the perspective of the oppression of native beliefs and traditions, it touches upon the appropriation and twisting of existing celebrations in to Christian ones, as well as the burning of churches and bibles. The “nothing burns quite like a bible burns” section verges upon metal self-parody, but is carried out with such conviction that it’s hard to argue against it, and combined with the incredibly strong melodies and chorus, show that – if they ever tire of misery – Petrichor are more than capable of writing songs that are defiantly, fist-raisingly triumphant.
Misery is definitely the over-riding feel and theme of the album though, coming through especially strongly on “This Too Must Die” and the closing track “Nihilist”, a 12 minute suicidal dirge that, crucially for a song of such length, never feels as long as it actually is. Rain isn’t the kind of album that can be put on regardless of mood – it’s too emotionally bleak and devastating for that – but when the right kind of sadness takes hold of you, it’s a gloriously crushing example of funeral doom done right.
Rain is available to stream and download via Bandcamp.