When Opeth returned in 2011 with the release of Heritage many believed that the death of true extreme progressive death metal had come to a end due to the lack of growls to balance out the cleaner vocals. Many people did not know where a suitable replacement or a new hero band would come from or if it was going to return at all. Little did people know that one of the answers to this very question would come from Opeths neighbouring country of Sweden, Finland. The band out of Finland would be Perihelion Ship.
Last year I discovered these guys and was totally mindblown by their strong independent debut titled A Rare Thunderstorm In Spring. With haunting Hammond Organ and Mellotron style keyboards over a traditional progressive death metal sound, Perihelion Ship would be one of those very bands that kept the progressive death metal sub genre alive and well. Not only are Perihelion Ship one of the answers to that void left by Opeth, they are very serious contenders to take the throne as the kings of that brand of progressive death metal which Opeth left vacant. This could not be more true with the bands second album and sophomoric effort To Paint A Bird Of Fire.
To Paint A Bird Of Fire sees Perihelion Ship mature quite quickly within under the year since they debuted with A Rare Thunderstorm In Spring. To Paint A Bird Of Fire builds upon the rock solid foundation laid with A Rare Thunderstorm In Spring. In some areas To Paint A Bird Of Fire is quite a bit more abrasive and aggressive than A Rare Thunderstorm In Spring, especially with the guttural growls. The growls are more a blackened death vocal this time around. This will be pointed out and highlighted as this review moves forward. To Paint A Bird Of Fire has 6 very unique tracks yet they all remain in a tightly and sometimes very unpredictable objective. It is book ended by New Sun and New Sun? leaving the listener either the illusion or appearance that this could be a two part epic broke up deliberately to conveying a unspoken point. Now a few highlights from the album with a track by track analysis.
New Sun starts out as a post modern extreme progressive doom style chord progression. This is met with haunting Hammond style organs creating a very dark atmosphere that allows the deep bass chord progression to explode. The song starts to assault the senses of the listener in a beautiful brutal passage. The band always has a very cunning ability to weave in 1970’s pure progressive concepts with the mellotron and Hammond styled organs with the various modern time signatures both in the rhythm section and the guitars. This song quickly demonstrates the bands uncompromising approach to pure progressive rock and to transcribe it through the filter of today’s modern progressive metal elements. The band certainly storms out of the gate with a very tight cohesive vision and execution of sound.
Bird Of Fire begins with a very eerie dark Hammond Organ chord progression that forms a very dark atmosphere. Soon that recedes and a full all out assault of all instruments forms a deep thunderous melodic rhythm section with the clean vocal first. Thereafter the band takes the listener through a roller coaster of various time signatures and chord progressions before the death growls come in and change the complexion of the track.
The Sad Mountain opens up with thunderous blast beats that are soon met with the melancholic atmosphere created by the synths. The rhythm section goes to further and darker areas of melody in harmony with the clean yet somber vocals. The band have a uncanny ability to use the bass both as a melodic and percussive instrument. Jouko Lehtonen – Bass Guitaris gradually establishing himself as one of modern progressive metal’s best bass players. This also sees the growth and maturation of Andreas Hammer – Guitar, Vocals starting to come into his own as a powerhouse progressive metal frontman. He is also a firm reminder of a younger Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth or Jonas Renske of Katatonia. Perihelion Ship definitely remain on point and objective this far into the album.
River’s Three opens up with a beautifully played acoustical guitar that creates a dark and once again yet somber atmosphere. Jani Konttinen’s – Hammond Organ, Mellotron orchestration of simulated wind instruments is a delightful brainstorm that yields a beautiful melody alongside the beautiful acoustic guitar. This track is a great track that it allows the listener to breathe and begin to digest the album.
Wind Of No Echoes continues to demonstrate the bands atmospheric side. Once again semi acoustic guitars alongside the beautiful keyboards give the album a particular sound signature where it is starting to become part and parcel to the brand of the band. That melancholic vibe before a wall of extreme bliss seems to be how the band likes to approach things at times. This is also accompanied with heavy rhythm section provided by the bass and drum. Then without notice the band changes up the atmosphere briefly yet with taste as not to disturb the listening experience. Through all the heavy passages there is a spoken word section that is met with some of the most venomous and sinister blackened death vocals I have heard in quite sometime. The sheer anger in the vocals is perfectly matched with the instrumental half of the track.
New Sun? This track goes well into the world of extreme progressive metal with some equally as heavy psychedelic elements to it. This is also the longest track on the album. It really explodes out of the gate with a heavy progressive and melodic unity within all the instruments. The deep rhythm sections are still in play as well as the intricate guitar chord progressions. The clean vocals are very strong on this one and are articulated quite well. If this is a continuation of the first song New Sun there are not any reprisal areas that lead the listener that way. The death growls certainly kick in perfect harmony with the deep double blast beats of the drums. The psychedelic portion comes with a wicked and sinister laugh that reminds me a lot of Porcupines Tree’s Voyage 34 when the main character Brian goes on that bad LSD trip. The mellotron style keyboards lend a heavy psychedelic vibe to those laughing spots. With this being the final track on the album it finishes very tight, professional and strong.
Last year I went on record and called Perihelion Ship’s A Rare Thunderstorm In Spring the best extreme progressive metal’s strongest debut album of all time. I also remember giving such praise to the pioneering independent spirit to that album. For a band to return just little under a year like Perihelion Ship has now done with To Paint A Bird Of Fire is another lofty feat in of itself. To Paint A Bird Of Fire is yet another full length album and it demonstrates the band’s ability to mature a lot in such little time since their debut A Rare Thunderstorm In Spring. Due to the band’s quick maturity and non inhibition of exploration I am giving Perihelion Ship’s To Pain A Bird Of Fire a strong 5/5. This could possibly be my progressive metal album of the year.
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